Sep 10, 2020
US Census Concerns Hearing Transcript September 10
The House Oversight Committee held a hearing about 2020 Census concerns amidst the coronavirus pandemic on September 10. Transcript of the full hearing below.
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Chairwoman Maloney: (00:02)
An under count will directly harm States and therefore people across this country, including States with large populations who vote Republican. An under count will reduce the amount of funding these States are entitled to receive for healthcare, education and transportation. Each year, we distribute over $ 1.5 trillion, federal trillion dollar payments to states based on census numbers. If the numbers are not correct, then the payments to the communities are not correct or fair.
Chairwoman Maloney: (00:44)
This is not a theoretical risk. Today, I am releasing several staff reports showing the negative impact on States with particularly hard to count populations: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Montana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah. These States, and others, could be directly harmed by the president’s insistence on rushing an inaccurate count by December. That’s why a number of Republican senators have come out in support of extending the deadlines.
Chairwoman Maloney: (01:28)
Let me quote from a letter that a Senator Steve Daines from Montana sent to Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer urging them to pass legislation to extend the deadlines. He wrote, and I quote, “Given the rural nature of Montana, and the additional challenges brought about by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, reverting the deadline back to September 30th, 2020, will leave tens of thousands of Montanans uncounted and underrepresented at the federal level. Nearly half of the households in the state have yet to be counted. It is critical that a full and accurate census is completed and every Montanan is counted.”
Chairwoman Maloney: (02:18)
This should not be a partisan issue. This is a Republican Senator from Montana. He supports the extensions because people from his state will lose federal funding to which they are entitled. On Saturday, this past Saturday, a federal judge issued an order temporarily halting efforts to end the census early. This is good news, but we should not wait for the courts to determine the fate of the census.
Chairwoman Maloney: (02:54)
Last month, four former census directors, one of whom is John Thompson, who is here with us today, warned that we cannot have an accurate census using the current schedule. The coronavirus crisis has made that impossible. If you support full funding for your state, if you support providing your constituents with healthcare, well-funded schools, hospitals, even road and bridge repair, then you should support these extensions. They will ensure your States are fully counted.
Speaker 1: (03:32)
Oh, your sound has dropped out. Now it’s back.
Chairwoman Maloney: (03:36)
Should I go back?
Speaker 1: (03:37)
You should go back.
Chairwoman Maloney: (03:39)
Speaker 1: (03:43)
To Montana. [inaudible 00:03:47].
Chairwoman Maloney: (03:48)
I regret that the sound was dropped so I am now going back. We had a tech technical problem.
Speaker 1: (03:53)
It’s not a partisan issue. Not a part of an issue.
Chairwoman Maloney: (03:57)
Okay, this is-
Speaker 1: (03:58)
Not a partisan issue.
Chairwoman Maloney: (04:03)
Okay. Let me quote, this is not a partisan issue. Let me quote from a letter that Senator Steve Daines from Montana sent to Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer urging them to pass legislation to extend the deadlines. He wrote and I quote, “Given the rural nature of Montana and the additional challenges brought about by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, reverting the deadline back to September 30th, 2020, will leave tens of thousands of Montanans uncounted and under represented at the federal level. Nearly half of the households in the state have yet to be counted. It is critical that a full and accurate census is completed and every Montanan is counted.”
Chairwoman Maloney: (05:03)
This should not be a partisan issue. This is a Republican Senator from Montana. He supports the extensions because people from his state will lose federal funding to which they are entitled. Over $1.5 trillion is distributed every year based on census numbers and formulas to our cities and our States and to our people. On Saturday, a federal judge issued an order temporarily halting efforts to end the census early. This is good news, but we should not wait for the courts to determine the fate of the census.
Chairwoman Maloney: (05:45)
Last month, in this room, four former census directors, one of whom, John Thompson, is here with us today. They warned that we cannot have an accurate census using the current schedule. The coronavirus crisis has made that impossible. If you support full and fair funding for your state, if you support providing your constituents with healthcare, well-funded schools, hospitals, even roads and bridges, then you should support these extensions. They will ensure that your state is fully counted.
Chairwoman Maloney: (06:26)
The Senate should do what the Trump administration originally requested, and what the career professionals at the Census Bureau need, pass legislation to extend these deadlines and ensure a full, fair and accurate census for our country. Thank you for your indulgence. I will give the ranking member extra time should he require it and want it. I now want to recognize Mr. Comer, the ranking member, for his opening statement.
Mr. Comer: (07:03)
Thank you Chairwoman Maloney. I appreciate you calling this in today on the 2020 census, even though we got started 22 minutes late. Let me begin by saying, unequivocally, the 2020 census is counting every resident in the United States, regardless of citizenship status. Any assertions to the contrary are scare tactics, which have the consequence of reducing participation in the census. The census is underway now. I want to encourage all people to complete their census form.
Mr. Comer: (07:37)
Census enumerators are knocking on doors around the country to count non-responding households. I encourage everyone to engage with the enumerator if they come to your door. If you are concerned about an enumerator coming to your door, you can complete your 2020 census online now at my2020census.gov. Unfortunately, the Democrats are not interested in bipartisanship on the 2020 census. Instead, Democrats have, once again, launched a partisan investigation into the 2020 census. Surprise surprise.
Mr. Comer: (08:13)
Today’s hearing is supposedly about the accuracy of the 2020 census. However, no witnesses from the Census Bureau had been invited to discuss current operations. Why aren’t we hearing directly from the Census Bureau about the census? Well, it’s because the Democrats don’t like what career Census Bureau officials have to say. In transcribed briefings before the committee, three Census Bureau officials stated that, as of now, the 2020 census can be accurately and fully completed by September 30th of this year. These facts contradict the Democrats narrative about the 2020 census. So they’re just going to ignore them. The truth is that technological improvements have made it possible to gather information more efficiently than ever before.
Mr. Comer: (09:04)
Here are the facts about the 2020 census according to career Census Bureau officials, as of September 8th, 2020, nationwide, 88.8% of all households have been counted in the 2020 census. Nationwide. 66% of the non-response followup caseload has been completed. 25 States had counted 90% or more of all households. All States have counted more than 75% of all households. Enumerators in the field are working at a more productive pace than expected. 232,000 enumerators are working across the country with another 69,000 enumerators in training to begin work. These are the real facts about the census that all Americans should know. The Democrats know these facts, but are choosing to ignore them.
Mr. Comer: (09:59)
In July. President Trump took a very important step to ensure the sanctity of our nation’s elections and equal representation under our constitution. The president directed the secretary of commerce to report an apportionment count for the house of representatives, which excludes non-legal residents in the United States, including illegal immigrants. All Americans should care about who is being included in the apportionment [inaudible 00:10:26], including illegal immigrant in the count for representation in Congress only dilutes the representation for all Americans who vote in elections and makes a mockery of our basic principle of one person one vote.
Mr. Comer: (10:42)
The president’s action restores the concept of representational government envisioned by the constitution. In a country so closely divided as the United States, illegal immigrants and noncitizens have a material effect on representation. Representation should matter to everyone. It’s a simple question of fairness. Predictably, the Democrats left wing allies have already filed lawsuits against the president. I have no doubt that the information gathered in the Democrats partisan investigation will be leaked to their left wing friends suing that administration.
Mr. Comer: (11:20)
Forget the fact that testimony provided to the committee totally refutes the Democrat narrative, like the [inaudible 00:11:27] surrounding the citizenship question, the legal questions about the president’s actions are likely to wind up at the Supreme Court. The hearing today is a continuation of the coordinated pressure campaign against Chief Justice Roberts and the other Supreme Court justices. The Democrat majority, their left wing allies and activist judges are all working together to undermine the 2020 census count. I urge us all to focus on the task ahead. The timely and accurate completion of the 2020 census count by September 30th, 2020. Thank you and I yield back.
Chairwoman Maloney: (12:07)
Thank you. I now recognize my good friend, Mr. Raskin, who is the chairman of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties for an opening statement.
Mr. Raskin: (12:18)
Thank you so much Madam Chair for holding this hearing and for being such a great champion for the census. I just want to take a second to remind my friend that the Trump administration lost its battle to paste a citizenship question last minute onto the census in the Supreme Court. So the Supreme Court has already rejected their efforts to post graffiti all over the census.
Mr. Raskin: (12:41)
Look, it’s difficult enough in a normal year to conduct a census of all the American people. It’s infinitely harder in the middle of a pandemic and the intricate plans and military-like schedule that were a decade in the making have been completely upended by this out of control coronavirus crisis and the lethal incompetence and indifference of the Trump administration, thereby creating an unprecedented challenge for the Bureau. Despite the Herculean effort of an army of enumerators, there’s still a shocking amount left to do to meet the constitutional mandate.
Mr. Raskin: (13:17)
As of yesterday, at least 15% of households in 10 different States had not been counted. Those States include Florida, North Carolina, New Mexico, South Carolina, Louisiana, Arizona, and Mississippi, Montana and Georgia. At the bottom of that list is Alabama, where the Bureau still has not enumerated 20% of the households. That doesn’t seem like much perhaps, but if 15 to 20% of people in all those States aren’t counted, more than 12 million Americans will be missed.
Mr. Raskin: (13:46)
The threat of an inaccurate account is no more of a blue state problem than COVID-19 is a blue state problem. Of those 10 States that are at the bottom of the barrel in enumeration, seven have Republicans representing them on this very committee. 65% of the house seats in those 10 States are held by Republicans and more than a half of those States have all Republican delegations in the Senate. This is a problem, not for blue States or for red States, but for the people of the United States.
Mr. Raskin: (14:16)
The census is important for two main things, money and power. If you don’t care about money or power, well, don’t worry about the census, but if you do, you better pay attention. I’ve got the honor of serving on the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, many people don’t realize how crucial the census is to our COVID-19 response and the ability of governments to meet the needs of the people.
Mr. Raskin: (14:37)
The CARES Act, which established the $150 billion coronavirus relief fund, required that the money be distributed to States based on census population data. Countless studies tracking the prevalence of the disease in the country have relied on census track data and our fine grain understanding of the disproportionate impact on communities of color across America is also based on census data. The census is used to determine where to build hospitals. It will help businesses trying to revitalize our economy, determine where to set up shop, and it will help cities and counties determine where to run bus routes and build roads that will help carry workers and consumers to their businesses.
Mr. Raskin: (15:16)
The census cannot become a hostage once again, to a political fight perpetrated by this administration and their allies in Congress. It is foundational to the American constitutional system and to representative democracy, it will only grow in importance as we use the data to fight the pandemic and rebuild our devastated economy. This is not the time to rush things in the interest of some partisan advantage. It is time to get it right. The pandemic has not only made the count itself harder, it has made post-enumeration data integrity, even more compelling and essential.
Mr. Raskin: (15:51)
In a normal year, the Bureau counts everyone is close to April one as possible. But this year, the count has been stretched out over many months, six or seven months, that’s six or seven months where people have scattered and moved around the country. College students have abandoned their dorms to go home, laid off workers have consolidated households or moved in with families, medical professionals shuffled around the nation to hotspots, essential workers quarantined themselves away from vulnerable family members. Loved ones who would have been counted on April one sadly succumbed to the disease before their household was enumerated, and I need not remind my colleagues, we have lost more than 190,000 Americans to this nightmare.
Mr. Raskin: (16:34)
The chances seem higher than ever before that a lot of people are going to be missed while others may be double counted. This calls for a more comprehensive, robust and elongated post-enumeration data review process. But instead, the Bureau’s cut its data processing schedule by 40%, from 150 days to around 90 days, the Bureau knows this is not enough time. We all know it’s not enough time. The Bureau has been asking for an extension since April, when it first concluded that it couldn’t meet the current statutory redistricting and apportionment deadlines while still delivering the highest quality counts.
Mr. Raskin: (17:11)
The house has already agreed to this common sense plan. But the HEROES Act, which granted the extension that the administration itself requested still is not law because of the inaction of the Senate. This has left the Bureau scrambling and caused the agency to abandon its carefully crafted data processing schedule for a seat of the pants plan cobbled together in a couple of days. This is not how an efficient modern government operates. This is what happens in failed States, not functioning democracies. Every census expert, including the Bureau itself, agrees that a rushed census is untenable and unsustainable, and inconsistent with the constitution.
Mr. Raskin: (17:50)
I call upon my GOP colleagues to give the Bureau the time it says it needs to do the census right in 2020. I don’t believe anyone here wants their constituents to go uncounted. Nobody wants their constituents to be missed. So let’s make sure that doesn’t happen. Let’s pass this indispensable and common sense extension and make sure that we have a comprehensive, full and accurate census in 2020. We’ll have to live with the results of it for a decade, and if 2020 has taught us anything by now, it’s that people’s lives, our economy and our democracy depend on getting things right the first time. So let’s not hide the truth. Let’s not bury the truth. Let’s recognize it and let’s act accordingly, with that, I yield back to Madam Chair and thank you for the time.
Chairwoman Maloney: (18:35)
Thank you so much for all your hard work and statement today. Now I would like to introduce our witnesses. We are grateful for their attendance today and for their expertise. Our first witness today is John H. Thompson, who served as a Census Director from 2013 to 2017. Then we will go to Christopher Mihm, who is the Managing Director of the Strategic Issues team at the Government Accountability Office. Then we will hear from Governor Stephen Roe Lewis who serves as the governor of Gila River Indian Community. Next, we will go to Stacey Carless, who is the Executive Director of the North Carolina Counts Coalition. Finally, we’ll hear from Hans von Spakovsky who is the Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
Chairwoman Maloney: (19:27)
The witnesses will be un-muted so we can swear them in. Please raise your right hands. Do you swear or affirm that the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God? Let the record show that the witnesses answered in the affirmative. Without objection, your written statements will be made part of the record. With that. Mr. Thompson, you are now recognized for your testimony. You want to turn on your mic. We can’t hear you.
Mr. Thompson: (20:05)
Sorry. Good morning, Chairwoman Maloney, Ranking Member Comer, and members of the committee. Thank you for this opportunity to testify before your committee, regarding providing the Census Bureau with time to produce a complete and accurate census. I am extremely concerned that the actions that have been taken to truncate 2020 census data collection activities by September 30th, 2020 will adversely affect the quality and accuracy of the 2020 census. I have submitted a detailed written testimony describing my concerns. In the following oral testimony, I will present an overview of these concerns.
Mr. Thompson: (20:48)
The Census Bureau will not conduct an effective followup of those households that do not self respond. Over 50 million households did not self-respond to the 2020 census. The operation to enumerate these households is what the Census Bureau refers to as non-response followup or NRFU. Given the magnitude of the non-responding households, conducting a comprehensive NRFU is necessary to achieve a fair and accurate enumeration for all populations and areas.
Mr. Thompson: (21:23)
The Census Bureau took actions with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic to revise the plans for data collection. In particular, NRFU was scheduled to start by August 11th, 2020, and to conclude by October 30th, 2020. On August 3rd, 2020, the Census Bureau announced that the deadlines would not be extended and the NRFU you would be completed by September 30th, 2020. The Census Bureau will have to take steps to complete NRFU more rapidly than had planned given that it has already lost over a third of the schedule that the career staff had developed under the original plan.
Mr. Thompson: (22:07)
These adjustments or steps may include: One, not making sufficient enumeration attempts in hard to count communities. Hard to count communities have a significantly lower level of self-response and a correspondingly larger proportion of households that fall into NRFU than other communities. Not making appropriate enumeration attempts with staff with the proper understanding and language skills in these areas will lead to a higher proportion of incomplete responses.
Mr. Thompson: (22:41)
Two, the Census Bureau will have to rely on proxy enumerations to a much larger extent than in previous censuses. Proxy enumerations had twice the level of error as other enumerations in the 2010 census. A larger proportion of proxy numerations in the 2020 census will significantly increase the levels of error.
Mr. Thompson: (23:04)
Three, the Census Bureau will be forced to complete NRFU by relying on the use of administrative records to a greater extent than had been initially planned. Administrative records are not representative of immigrant and minority communities so this will result in increased undercounts of these populations.
Mr. Thompson: (23:25)
Four, limitations imposed by the truncated schedule will force the Census Bureau to accept a higher proportion of incomplete NRFU enumerations resulting in the use of count and whole person imputation to a much greater extent than in previous censuses. This will increase the under counts for the hard to count communities.
Mr. Thompson: (23:48)
Five, finally, if the actions described in the document that the committee recently released are actually what is being implemented by the Census Bureau, it is clear that quality is being sacrificed in order to meet the September 30th, 2020 deadline.
Mr. Thompson: (24:07)
The schedule for post data collection processing has been severely truncated, raising concerns of undiscovered, computer errors, and a loss of data quality. The initial Census Bureau schedule allowed five months where the post data collection processing operations prior to the release of apportionment counts. In the revised schedule, the Census Bureau issued in its request for an extension of the deadlines, there were six months allocated to the post data collection processing. Under the current schedule, there are only three months available for the post data collection processing.
Mr. Thompson: (24:45)
The Census Bureau has released little information regarding how it plans to address the new limited timeframe for post data collection processing. For example, there is no discussion of how it plans to remove duplicate enumerations. The Census Bureau has stated that the time allotted for subject matter expert review and software error remediation has been compressed by cutting 21 days from the schedule. This is alarming because the well-developed plans for this phase of post data collection processing were based on extensive planning. The likelihood of a serious computer error that goes undetected is very high. In conclusion, thank you for this opportunity, and I look forward to answering any questions that you may have.
Chairwoman Maloney: (25:35)
Thank you for your testimony and your service as a Census Director that helped develop this plan that is now being compressed. I would now like to call upon Mr. Mihm. You’re now recognized. Turn your mic on.
Mr. Mihm: (25:55)
Thank you Chairwoman Maloney, Ranking Member Comer, members of the committee, it’s indeed a great honor to be here today to talk about the status of the 2020 census. I have the great privilege today of talking about the work that many of my colleagues at GAO have been doing over many months on behalf of the Congress and to present that work to you today.
Mr. Mihm: (26:15)
Our bottom line today is that like the rest of the country, including obviously the Congress, the Census Bureau was forced to respond to the COVID-19 national emergency. In regards to the 2020 census, it undertook a series of changes that resulted in the COVID-19, resulted in delays, compressed timeframes, implementation of untested procedures and continuing challenges, which we believe could undermine the overall quality of the census count and escalate costs.
Mr. Mihm: (26:45)
My statement today is based on our August 27 report to this committee entitled 2020 Census: Recent Decision to Compress Census Timeframes Poses Additional Risks to an Accurate Count. As you mentioned, and as you know, on August 3rd, the Bureau announced that it would end data collection by September 30th and deliver apportionment counts by the statutory deadline of December 31st. This September 30 cutoff date is one month earlier than the Bureau had planned due to the COVID-19 emergency. The Bureau has said it would shorten, first, planned field data collection, and second, data processing operations in order to meet the statutory deadlines. My comments this morning will cover issues in both of those areas. First in regards to field data collection. The good news, as Mr. Comer noted in his opening statement, is that as of September 8th, the Bureau is about 70% complete in following up on households where it did not have a census form. This is ahead of its goal to be at 62% at this point. On the other hand, and not surprisingly, and Madam Chairwoman, this was the point that you were making in your statement, the census progress varies markedly among localities. In fact, the census is inherently a local enterprise and some hard to count areas are lagging significantly from the national average. High rates of COVID-19 in some areas, weather events, such as hurricane Laura, wildfires all affect the Bureau’s ability to visit households, to get a response.
Mr. Mihm: (28:13)
As of September one, 49 of the 248 local census offices had not met their followup goals. The Bureau had planned to hire up to 435,000 enumerators to conduct followup. However, as of September 8th, the Bureau had hired only about 355,000 census takers. Again, the census is local and as of the end of August, seven area census offices were below 50% of their goal in the numbers of enumerators actively working, exacerbating the workload issue that I just discussed.
Mr. Mihm: (28:47)
To help address staffing shortfalls, the Bureau is providing incentive awards to its staff based on productivity and hours worked. The Bureau also made operational adjustments to its follow up efforts. However, as you mentioned, Madam, as of September 5th, the temporary restraining order was issued that enjoins the Census Bureau from accelerating its data collection and data processing, or allowing any actions as a result of the shortened timelines to be implemented. As a result, the bureau’s ability to continue with this adjustments is unclear at this time, we’ll continue to monitor and follow up on these operations and we’ll be reporting to the Congress.
Mr. Mihm: (29:25)
Second, in regards to the streamlined response processing. The commitment to provide the apportionment counts by the end of December means, as Director Thompson was mentioning, that the Bureau has less time to conduct its post data collection activities, which improve the completeness and accuracy census data. During census response processing, the Bureau checks for duplicate and inconsistent and incomplete responses, and where appropriate, uses administrative records to supplement the response data.
Mr. Mihm: (29:53)
The Bureau expects to begin this response processing in mid October to mid October, instead of in January, 2021, as previously planned, after commerce requested the statutory change to the required deadline. This means activities that were planned for 150 days will now need to be completed in 92 days. However, here too, the Bureau’s plans may change due to the September 5th temporary restraining order. Again, we will continue to monitor this.
Mr. Mihm: (30:20)
Let me conclude on a point that Mr. Comer was making in his opening statement about the continued importance of public participation. There is still time to fill out the form. There is still time to cooperate with the census taker when they come to our addresses. The national need is to have a full and accurate census. With this Madam, this concludes my statement, and I’d be pleased to take any questions you or the committee may have.
Chairwoman Maloney: (30:44)
Thank you very, very much for your testimony. You have testified many times before this committee on the census and we appreciate it. Next, we will hear from Governor Lewis. Governor Lewis, you are now recognized and he will be by remote. Governor Lewis.
Governor Lewis: (31:01)
Good morning, Chairwoman Maloney, Ranking Member …
Governor Lewis: (31:03)
Good morning, Chairwoman Maloney, Ranking Member Comer, Congressman Gosar, and members of the committee. I want to thank you for holding this important and timely hearing on producing an accurate census. My name is Steven Roe Lewis, and I’m the governor of the Gila River Indian Community. The community is located outside of Phoenix, Arizona, and our reservation covers approximately 372,000 acres. In total, the community has over 22,000 tribal members with approximately 14,000 residing on the reservation.
Governor Lewis: (31:32)
I want to state up front that the community supports this committee’s efforts to legislatively extend census field operations to October 31st, 2020, and the statutory deadlines for reporting the apportionment and redistricting data to April 30th, 2021 and July 31st, 2021, respectively. An accurate census is critical to Indian country. It is not an exaggeration. It is not an exaggeration to say an accurate census can be a matter of life or death in tribal communities, because the program impacted by census count affects delivery of healthcare, public safety, our youth and elder programs, housing, violence against women grants, and other programs that sustain our tribal communities, and we have a reason to be concerned that an accurate count will not occur if the Census Bureau ends field operations at the end of this month.
Governor Lewis: (32:28)
In March of this year, during the initial stages of the coronavirus pandemic, the Census Bureau temporarily suspended operations because of health and safety issues. In April, the Commerce Secretary and the Census Bureau Director announced a plan to extend field operations to October 30th, 2020, and seek an additional 120 calendar days for apportionment and redistricting reporting. However, in August in an abrupt reversal, the Census Bureau condensed the deadline for field operations and self response to September 30th and is no longer seeking an extension for reporting.
Governor Lewis: (33:01)
This is troubling to the Gila River Indian Community and the many other tribal leaders and tribal organizations that I’ve spoken to. In the 2010 decennial census, Indian country was the most under-counted demographic, at a rate more than double the next closest hard-to-count population, and that was during a regular census cycle. The current self response rate on the Gila River Indian Community’s reservation today is 10.1%. Let me say that again: 10.1%. That means that if the census were to end today, I can only be certain that 2200 of our over 22,000 tribal members would be counted. That’s compared to our response rate for the state of Arizona of 62.1% and a national rate of 65.5%.
Governor Lewis: (33:46)
And we’re not alone. If you look at the chart that accompanies my written testimony, you will see that of the 19 tribal responders in Arizona 17 are below a 50% response rate and 14 are below a 33% response rate. These self response rates are staggeringly low but not surprising. In many tribal communities like the Gila River Indian Community, in person contact is the only method to make sure our households are counted, and that just wasn’t possible this year.
Governor Lewis: (34:15)
At the risk of stating the obvious, we are in the midst of a global pandemic. Indian country has the unfortunate distinction of being the most impacted population of COVID-19, according to the CDC. And ironically, the reasons can be directly tied back to these programs that rely on census data for funding allocations like housing, infrastructure, and elder care, to name a few.
Governor Lewis: (34:39)
The circumstances that created the interruption of census field operations could not have been predicted or prevented, but what can be prevented is a rushed count. Any attempt to deliberately cut off census operations during the pandemic with a full understanding that it will result in such a significant undercount for Indian country is not only irresponsible, Madam Chair, members of the committee, it is a breach of the trust and responsibility between the United States and tribal nations.
Governor Lewis: (35:10)
At the Gila of Indian community, our reservation has been in shelter-at-home status for all but four weeks since March. My executive order to require a mask for anyone on the reservation was one of the first in the state. I did that because as an elected leader, it’s my responsibility to put the health and safety of my people and all of those on the reservation first, but that doesn’t mean the Gila River Indian community or any other tribal nation in the United States gave up our right to be counted in the census. The stakes are too high. We have the right to adequate federal representation in Congress, and we have the right for our voices to be heard.
Governor Lewis: (35:50)
The tribal members of the Gila River Indian Community count. The members of all Arizona tribal nations count. The members of all 574 tribal nations must be counted. Anything other than the time and process required for a full and accurate census count is a deliberate undermining of our tribal communities, and that is not only unacceptable, it’s unconscionable. Thank you for the opportunity to speak today. I’m happy to answer any questions from the committee.
Chairwoman Maloney: (36:16)
Thank you so much for your testimony, Governor. Now, Miss Carlos, you are now recognized. Miss Carlos.
Stacy Carlos: (36:26)
Chairwoman Maloney, Ranking Member Comer, and members of the committee. I am Stacy Carlos, Executive Director of NC Counts Coalition. I want to thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today to testify about the upcoming 2020 census deadline. NC Counts Coalition is a nonprofit organization established to facilitate cross-sector collaboration to achieve a complete and accurate census count for North Carolina. We believe that accurate census data is essential to the economic and general wellbeing of every single North Carolinian. Our goal as North Carolina’s hub for 2020 census outreach keeps us on the ground and connected to North Carolina communities, which positions us well to adjust the current deadline of the 2020 census. As COVID-19 continues to disrupt our lives, it is also disrupting the 2020 census operation. About 3.8 million individuals are missing from North Carolina’s count, putting North Carolina at risk of missing out on $7 billion in federal funding every year and not gaining our expected 14th seat in the US House of Representatives.
Stacy Carlos: (37:28)
As of September 7th, 61.4% of North Carolina households have self responded to the census. This is below the national average of 65.5% and below our state’s 2010 self response average of 64.8%. North Carolina has 100 counties. Only 18 of our 100 counties have surpassed the 2010 self response rate. Currently, census tracks with low census self response rates have greater proportions of residents that identify as American Indian, Black, or Latino. These populations have also been hit hard by COVID-19 and felt the impact of hurricanes in the last couple of years. Other factors associated with low response in North Carolina include low internet access, college and military communities, and census tracks with a high percentage of young children under five. North Carolina needs extended timeline for self response, any robust non-response followup field outreach. We are extremely concerned that North Carolina is on the verge of a failed 2020 census.
Stacy Carlos: (38:34)
Due to COVID-19, Census Bureau staff has been limited in the field support they have provided as part of self response operations. On July 14th, the Census Bureau announced that it would begin its Mobile Questionnaire Assistance Program. Census Bureau staff categorized NC counties as green or red according to the counties’ COVID-19 infection rate. Red counties were considered high-risk counties where MQAs could not be conducted. From July 30th through about August 12th, Census Bureau staff were discouraged from working in red counties, which were more than half of North Carolina counties.
Stacy Carlos: (39:08)
We are also concerned about the accuracy of the non-response followup enumeration due to allegations of inadequate training, reports of terminated employees, and witness accounts of enumerators not knocking on doors. Last week, our organization dropped off information in low responding census tracks. While there, our staff observed an enumerator go door to door and place a census form at the doorstep without even knocking on doors.
Stacy Carlos: (39:38)
Due to time, I can only share with you one example of an instance that has raised red flags. We hear on a regular basis from current and past census staff about concerns that they have about census operations. We are concerned about the quality of data being collected through the non-response followup operation. Under the current timeline, it will be nearly impossible for enumerators to knock on the doors of the estimated 1.5 million households that have yet to respond. We are concerned about the state’s current non-response followup rate of 20.7%. Is the Bureau focusing on addresses that are easy to enumerate, such as vacation homes in the mountains and at the beach where homes are likely vacant, allowing for an easier enumeration, versus deploying resources into low-performing census tracks where Black and brown families actually reside? I have provided you with that and testimony to illustrate our concerns. NC Counts Coalition and our partners remain steadfast in our commitment, but we understand the impact that this enumeration will have on our communities for the next 10 years. Our children need a complete and accurate census to access education. Our seniors need a complete and accurate census so they can retire and have access to healthcare. Our military community needs a complete inaccurate and accurate census. As they fulfilled their commitment to serve our country, it is our commitment to serve them.
Stacy Carlos: (41:05)
Throughout the pandemic, partner organizations have strapped on their boots, put on their masks, and done their part to get out the count across North Carolina. We need more time. The constitution gives Congress responsibility for getting the census right. If there is any hope of salvaging a complete and accurate 2020 census, the deadline must be extended to at least October 31st, 2020. Thank you.
Chairwoman Maloney: (41:29)
Thank you very much for your testimony. I now recognize our final speaker, Mr. [Spakovsky 00:00:41:35], you are now recognized.
Mr. Spakovsky: (41:40)
Can you hear me, Madam Chairman?
Chairwoman Maloney: (41:42)
Yes, we can hear you. Thank you.
Mr. Spakovsky: (41:43)
Very good. Thank you. I appreciate the invitation to be here today. It is essential that the Census Bureau follow longstanding historical precedent and collect data on the number of citizens and non-citizens present in the US using the extensive information on citizenship contained in executive branch agency records that the president has ordered supplied to the Census Bureau. That data is important not only for apportionment and redistricting but also for the effective enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. It is within the constitutional and delegated statutory authority of the chief executive to direct the collection of citizenship data. Civic collection of citizenship data is also vital to establish a consensus on national immigration policy. Without citizenship data, it’s not possible to have an informed debate and discussion over what US policy should be and how to successfully implement it.
Mr. Spakovsky: (42:37)
The Census Bureau has been collecting citizen population data since the 1820 census. It currently collects that data through the American Community Survey. However, because the ACS is only sent out annually about 2.5% of American households, it does not collect complete data on the country. The executive order ensures at the Census Bureau has access to all available records. The limited citizenship data from the ACS is routinely used by the Department of Justice in enforcing Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Section 2 is most often used for challenges to at-large districts and to the redistricting process, ensuring that minority voters have the opportunity to elect representatives of their choice. The remedy to a section two violation is to draw a district in which minority voters, citizens, constitute a majority of the voters such that they can elect their candidates of choice. Citizen population data is essential to drawing an effective voting district for minority voters.
Mr. Spakovsky: (43:42)
The justice department’s use of citizenship data can be seen in numerous complaints filed by the justice department to enforce section two in both Republican and Democratic administrations, but it is hampered by the limited data available through the ACS. Basing apportionment on a total population that includes large numbers of illegal aliens is fundamentally unfair to American citizens and dilutes and diminishes the value of their votes. On July 21st, President Trump issued a memorandum directing that illegal aliens be excluded from the population used for apportionment. This is within his constitutional and statutory authority. Since the first census, we have not counted every single individual physically present in each state. As is the normal procedure, for example, and this is a quote from the current census residency criteria, “Citizens of foreign countries visiting the United States, such as on vacation or business trips, are not counted.”
Mr. Spakovsky: (44:44)
In Franklin v. Massachusetts, the US Supreme Court pointed out that the key phrase in the constitution concerning the number of persons “in each state” can, and this is a quote from the Supreme Court case, “mean more than mere physical presence and has been used broadly enough to include some element of allegiance or enduring tie to a place.” Illegal aliens, like tourists, clearly have no element of political allegiance to a state or federal government. They can’t be called for jury duty. They can’t be drafted for military service if we had a mandatory draft, because they owe their political allegiance to their native country, of which they are citizens. Furthermore, illegal aliens have no enduring tie to any states, since they are illegally present in the country. They can be picked up, detained at any time by federal authorities, and removed from the US. That’s excluding individuals who have no allegiance or enduring tie to a state is well within the precedent set by the court in Franklin.
Mr. Spakovsky: (45:47)
As the Supreme court said in Reynolds v. Sims, its seminal case on representational government and the equal protection clause, “achieving a fair and effective representation of all citizens is conceitedly the basic aim of legislative apportionment.” Illegal aliens are not citizens, and the fact that they may be temporarily or merely, as the Supreme Court said, living in a particular state does not make them inhabitants who must be counted for apportionment purposes. Including non-citizens in apportionment and redistricting unfairly dilutes the votes of citizens and distorts the political representation of state. This violates fundamental principles of fairness and equity to which citizens are entitled as members of the body politic.
Mr. Spakovsky: (46:34)
The senior career leadership currently in the Census Bureau has already testified before this committee that it has the ability, the time, and the resources to provide an accurate count of the population of the US, as it has in numerous prior census counts. That includes its duty and obligation provide a complete count of the number of citizens and non-citizens present in the country. Thank you, Madam Chairman.
Chairwoman Maloney: (47:01)
Thank you very much for your testimony. The gentleman yields back. And now I thank every… all of our participants today. I now recognize myself for five minutes for questions. I want to address my questions to the two people here from states that could lose tens of millions of dollars in federal funding as a result of a rushed undercount. Miss Carlos from North Carolina and Governor Lewis from Arizona, because this will not happen only in Democratic-leaning states, it will happen in states with Republican voters and representatives, too. Now, both of your states are lagging behind on their census counts for a variety of reasons, including the coronavirus crisis. Right now, the national average of response is 88.8%, but North Carolina is only at 82.9%, and Arizona is even worse at 80.8%. So in other words, North Carolina is six percentage points behind the national average, and Arizona is eight percentage points behind.
Chairwoman Maloney: (48:20)
So let’s discuss what this means for federal funding for your states. Miss Carlos, in the staff report we issued this morning, we estimated how much funding your state would lose with an undercount of just 1%, and based on that estimate, North Carolina could lose more than $99 million in federal funding. That includes funding for healthcare, jobs training, education, transit, and much more. And that is for just one year. Over 10 years, that would be nearly $1 billion. Miss Carlos, this is federal funding that the people of your state, the people of North Carolina, are entitled to under the law, but they will not get it if they are not counted. Isn’t that right, and what does that mean for your state? Miss Carlos.
Stacy Carlos: (49:22)
Chairwoman Maloney, thank you for your question, and yes, that is correct. North Carolina is the ninth most populous state and the fourth fastest-growing state in the country. Our state really needs every dollar we are entitled to to support infrastructure, resources, and programs for our growing population. Also, I think the current pandemic really magnifies the importance of government programs, such as the housing assistance and food and nutrition programs, which all relate back to the census. So right now in North Carolina, there are one million utility customers and renters at risk of utility disconnection and eviction, as well as applications for food assistance programs has increased by 15%, and unemployment is high. North Carolina is going to need every dollar we are entitled to as our state recovers from the financial hardships of this pandemic.
Chairwoman Maloney: (50:08)
Thank you. Now, Governor Lewis, according to our estimate, an undercount of just 1% in Arizona could mean a reduction of federal funds of over $60 million. Again, that’s just for one year. Over the next decade, which is what the census numbers stand for, a complete 10 years, that would be over $600 million. And there is another factor. As you testified, Arizona has large tribal and rural areas, and their counts are far below even the state average right now. So, Governor Lewis, federal funding helps not only the tribal communities who desperately need it but the entire state of Arizona. These are funds that the people of your state or due under these federal programs, but they won’t get it if things continue like this and go on as is planned. Isn’t that right, Governor Lewis, and can you elaborate? What will not getting a full and accurate count of everyone in Arizona mean to your state?
Governor Lewis: (51:22)
Thank you, Chairwoman Maloney, for bringing attention to the Arizona state reports. What that report shows that if the undercount is the same percentage as the 10/27 American Community Survey, the populations most at risk for underfunding of critical programs are also the most vulnerable populations: African Americans, Hispanics, young children, Asian Americans, and over 19,000 American Indians. Each of those numbers represents an individual who won’t be counted for purposes of education, healthcare, elder care, food security, housing, and other programs that utilize census data. There is an individual, a family, and a community behind each of those numbers, Madam Chair, that will be irreparably harmed by the undercount that would be anticipated. And again, the undercount anticipated for the 2020 census is a much greater given the pandemic interruption of census operations.
Governor Lewis: (52:15)
Now, in a real world scenario, I don’t have the specific dollar amount, but I can provide an example that came about as a result of the allocation of the Tribal Relief Fund and the CARES Act. The treasury department used, in a large part, the population numbers from the Indian Accounting Block Grant Program to distribute those funds. The Gila River Indian community had an undercount of approximately 8000 tribal members. This resulted in tens of millions of dollars not being allocated to our tribal government to provide for our citizens during this pandemic. But some tribal nations had a population count so skewed that they received little or no money to combat COVID-19 and their tribal communities from the population allocation, and these are impacts that will be with us for decades, not just one year or one COVID relief package, Madam Chair, members of the committee.
Chairwoman Maloney: (53:06)
Thank you very, very much. And I’d like to ask one last question to each of you and let you both respond. You both have Republican senators who represent your states. Senator McSally represents Arizona, and Senator Tillis and Senator Burr represent North Carolina. I want the two of you to please explain, take a moment and tell your senators whatever you want about the need to extend the census deadlines and what it will mean for the people of your state if they fail to ask. All we’re asking is to extend deadlines. Governor Lewis, let’s start with you. If Senator McSally was listening right now, what would you want to say to her about the need for an accurate and full census count?
Governor Lewis: (54:03)
Madam Chair, I would tell my Republican delegation, out of respect, the same thing that I will tell all congressional members. The census should not be a political or partisan issue. The census is too important to all tribal nations, states, and local governments who rely on funding to provide for the basic needs of our citizens. The low response rates that are currently being reported are just as detrimental to those states deemed red states or blue states. In fact, the recent rankings of state responses place more red states in the bottom of 20 then blue states. We have to make sure there’s an accurate count. It’s in everyone’s interest that the census is accurate. Our tribal citizens are relying on it, and, frankly, every member of Congress should be relying on it because the census determines representation and equal representation, and that is a vital. As Indian country, as I represent my tribal community for its federal tribal trust relationship, Madam Chair, and this goes right to the underpinnings and the foundation of our constitution.
Chairwoman Maloney: (55:11)
Thank you very much. Miss Carlos, what would you say to senators from North Carolina, Senator Tillis and Senator Burr.
Stacy Carlos: (55:21)
Senator Tillis and Senator Burr, I urge you to support a later deadline for the 2020 census operation. Too much is at stake for North Carolina for us to risk a complete and accurate count: $44 billion, a 14th congressional seat, and essential data to help guide allocation of resources and services for North Carolinians across our state. Senator Tillis, you advocated for North Carolina soldiers and Marines to be counted in the decennial census as residents of the state, regardless of whether or not they were deployed abroad. Unfortunately, the counties that are home to military families are underperforming, leaving military families at risk for losing resources that would help support military personnel and their families. Let’s not let the work we put into getting North Carolina communities go in vain. Let’s do everything we can together to support a complete and accurate 2020 census count for our state.
Chairwoman Maloney: (56:18)
Thank you. I hope they are both listening. I now yield to the ranking member for five… Well, he has said and designated the Congressman Gosar is next. I now yield to Congressman Gosar and recognize him for questions. Is there a technical problem?
Speaker 2: (56:57)
Mr. [inaudible 00:26:00].
Chairwoman Maloney: (57:00)
Ah, there seems to be some technical problem. I now yield to Congressman Hice. Mr. Congressman Hice, you are now recognized.
Congressman Hice: (57:10)
Thank you, Madam Chair. Mr. Mihm, let me begin with you, if I can. I’m sure you are aware of the recent stats that the Bureau has come out regarding the non-response followup operation. Is that correct?
Mr. Mihm: (57:30)
Congressman Hice: (57:32)
Okay. So, I feel like I’m getting a little different type of information, because in one regard we’re like 70% ahead of the game, but in other ways we’re not. So just bottom line, would you consider the Bureau ahead of projections or behind?
Mr. Mihm: (57:52)
Well, as I mentioned, sir, is that there is good news, and that is that they are ahead on their non-response followup of where they had… where their goal would be at this point. The challenge that they have, and we’ve seen this in every single census, is getting that last few percentage points of the population, and that’s still something that they need to work on and that will be very difficult for them to do. But they are ahead of their schedule according to their plan at this point.
Congressman Hice: (58:20)
Okay. And I would imagine every census has problems, great difficulties, getting the last handful to respond. I mean non-responders or non-respondents, it doesn’t matter which census we’re talking about, but bottom line, we’re ahead of projections. I think that’s incredible news. Now, in light of that, districts like mine, just for example, the 10th district of Georgia, largely rural, we are reporting less than 60%. So we are… And yet the Bureau estimated that there would be 60% of self respondents, and yet in our district, we have… at least certain areas of our district that we don’t even have 60% counted yet. So we have technological advances. We’re using iPads, we’re using laptops. We’ve got a lot of things going on. And yet in some rural areas like mine, we’re still struggling to get the numbers. So my question is, what’s the problem? Is it technology? Is it the pandemic? What is the issue in some of these more rural districts?
Mr. Mihm: (59:31)
In some cases, sir, it’s just almost a perfect storm. I mean, certainly the pandemic has wrecked havoc on the Bureau’s ability to, first, in terms of recruiting people. They’re having also problems with turnover. Their turnover estimates were at about 10% would come in to training and then not actually then begin work. It’s actually running a… over double that. They’re also having trouble, obviously, with people being willing to open the doors and talk, even though they practice PPE and are keeping a six-foot distance away from that. The big challenge that we were… that the Census Bureau runs into is, again, getting that last kind of couple of 2%, 3% of the population. For a 10-week operation, a non-response followup, it’s not uncommon for the last four weeks to be going after the 2% of the population. That’s an important point, both because we want everyone counted, but it’s also because that’s where we make sure that those hardest to count, hardest to enumerate, communities are actually included in the census.
Congressman Hice: (01:00:34)
Okay. So, the real problem here… You’re going to get… You feel comfortable we’re going to get 97%, but the real problem is going to be getting that last 3% or so, correct?
Mr. Mihm: (01:00:44)
That has typically been the challenge that the Bureau faces. I mean, obviously it’s even more compressed this time, but if they end up with 3% without being fully enumerated, that would be, by all historical standards and certainly the standards of the professionals at the Census Bureau, not a successful count, not a complete inaccurate count. So that, that would be a major kind of defeat, institutional defeat, for the Census Bureau.
Congressman Hice: (01:01:10)
Okay. So we’ve got, let’s say, 20 days or so remaining for the field operation right now. What are the biggest challenges on this final stretch for our rural districts? I mean, obviously internet connectivity is, I would think, somewhat of a problem, but what are the biggest challenges that you’re facing as we approach this deadline?
Mr. Mihm: (01:01:34)
I think the biggest challenges, sir, are first making sure that we have enough enumerators out there and that they’re working enough hours. And that’s part of what the incentive pay program the Census Bureau has put in place to address is to try and get the enumerators to work more hours. That’s probably one of the biggest things. The second thing is obviously having the public cooperate and participate with the Census Bureau. The Census Bureau has continued its community outreach programs, because they know in a lot of areas around the country having trusted local voices…
Mr. Mihm: (01:02:03)
… They know, in a lot of areas around the country, having trusted local voices speak up for the census and talk about the importance of the census, as a couple of the witnesses here have done, is very important to convincing people to participate in the census and then hopefully, touch wood, that we don’t have other Coronavirus spikes, we don’t have other weather related events. That would certainly derail the Census Bureau if any of that happened.
Congressman Hice: (01:02:27)
But you feel like we’re going to make it, and I’ll close with this, you feel like we’re going to make the deadline. Is that correct?
Mr. Mihm: (01:02:32)
Well, I’m not trying to parse words here, sir, but to be accurate is that the Census Bureau will complete a census. It’s a question, and the risk is of what will be lost. Will it be a less than historically acceptable account in terms of completeness and in terms of accuracy? And that’s the big worry that I think everyone faces.
Congressman Hice: (01:02:58)
Sure it is. Thank you.
Mr. Mihm: (01:03:00)
Thank you, sir.
Congressman Hice: (01:03:00)
Chairwoman Maloney: (01:03:01)
Gentlemen yields back. Congresswoman Norton is now recognized. Congresswoman Norton, you are now recognized.
Congresswoman Norton: (01:03:10)
Thank you very much Madam Chair, for this important hearing, it means dollars and cents to every district, including my own, the district of Columbia. I want to get a sense of what we’re talking about here, Mr. Thompson, when we hear that the time has been cut from five months to three months, exactly what the implications are. Mr. Thompson, could you explain how the Census Bureau develops timelines for data collection and processing, so we will understand what this reduction in months means?
Mr. Thompson: (01:03:59)
Certainly, Congresswoman, I’m delighted to respond. So the Census Bureau began their testing program in 2013 and they conducted a number of tests, did a lot of research, understanding the time that was available to conduct the 2020 census. And based on that extensive planning and preparation, they developed a schedule and that schedule allowed for five months of post data collection processing. That’s basically how it came about.
Congresswoman Norton: (01:04:43)
This is certainly not an arbitrary timeline. Let me further ask you Mr. Thompson, in order to process this data on a shortened timeline, will the Bureau have to alter or eliminate some of the processes it has developed to ensure a complete and accurate census? For example, in a court suit filed the Census Bureau said it plans to cut 21 days from the schedule by compressing the time allotted, and hear I am quoting, for subject matter expert review and software remediation. I’m wondering if you would translate that for us. Does this change increase the risks of an inaccurate or incomplete data count? If so, why?
Mr. Thompson: (01:05:56)
Congresswoman, that’s also a good point. So what that operation entails is for the Census Bureau subject matter experts to look at preliminary tabulations of census data and compare them with well-known benchmarks and understand what’s causing differences, and then they have to go back, if they find differences, and understand is this a computer problem or is this a problem with the census counts or what? So it’s very important that they carry out this operation because that’s one of the ways in which they find that there are errors in their computer programming, and then they fix those errors. If they don’t fix the errors they could be with us for quite a while.
Congresswoman Norton: (01:06:52)
Here’s another changed mentioned, and again, I’m asking for your translation. The change described in this court suit is that the Census Bureau will eliminate redundant quality control steps. Does this change increase risks of inaccurate or incomplete data, and if so why?
Mr. Thompson: (01:07:20)
Certainly Congresswomen. So the Census Bureau on a lot of their operations, including the non-response followup, interviewing and others interviewings, they have quality checks that they build in to make sure that the enumerators are doing high quality work. So if those quality checks are reduced, then that of course introduces the prospect that more enumerator fabrication might occur and not be detected and put more error into the system.
Congresswoman Norton: (01:07:56)
[inaudible 01:07:56] the bottom line, sir, are you concerned that 92 days will not be enough time to ensure that the census is as accurate as complete as possible?
Mr. Thompson: (01:08:10)
Well, Congresswoman, as I’ve testified, I’m very concerned about the effect of the truncated schedule on both data collection and post data collection processing on the accuracy and quality of the 2020 census.
Congresswoman Norton: (01:08:29)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Chairwoman Maloney: (01:08:32)
[inaudible 01:08:32] yields back. Congressman Jordan, you are now recognized.
Congressman Jordan: (01:08:40)
Thank you Madam Chair. Mr. Von Spakovsky, so two weeks ago on August 28, Ron Jarmin, deputy director, chief operating officer of the United States Census Bureau said, “We will be able to produce a complete and accurate census by the deadline.” August 27th, 2020, again, two weeks ago, Tim Olson, associate director for field operations said, “Yes, we’re on track to get this done on time.” Same day, August 27, 2020, Al Fonteneau, associate director for decennial census programs said, “All the indications are that we are on track.” So three professionals running the census have each said they’re on track. And yet Chairwoman Maloney says you need an extension. Mr. Rascon says we need an extension, and their four witnesses today say we need an extension. So I just have a simple question, who should I trust? The partisan Democrats on this committee and the four witnesses they’ve asked to come in and testify, or the people actually doing the job, the career professionals at the Census Bureau? Who do you think we should trust?
Mr. Spakovsky: (01:09:58)
Well, I think I would go with the professional career senior leadership at the Census Bureau. They are the ones who have planned, implemented, supervised, and directed the entire census program. And my experience both as a government employee and elsewhere is that they’re judgment is the one that ought to be trusted.
Congressman Jordan: (01:10:24)
Probably should trust the people doing the job and actually in the field, working with the people in the field, versus the partisans on the committee and the people they’ve asked to come in and testify. And oh, by the way, I should point out those three statements made just two weeks ago, were part of the Democrats’ investigation. So this wasn’t Republicans going out and soliciting this information. This is Democrats bringing these individuals in under oath, and all three of these individuals said, we’re on track to get the census done on time.
Congressman Jordan: (01:10:48)
It seems to me that, we’ve got this hearing, we got four people coming in who aren’t part of the census, who aren’t doing it, who aren’t out there day to day working with the people who are, who are saying we need an extension, and yet we have the folks doing the job that said, no extension is necessary. In fact, we’re going to be done on time. And 86% of the households have already been counted in the 2020 census now.
Congressman Jordan: (01:11:11)
Different subject, Mr. Von Spakovsky, and you talked about this in your testimony. Is a citizen’s vote diluted when illegal immigrants are counted in the apportionment number?
Mr. Spakovsky: (01:11:22)
They most certainly are. By including them in the apportionment count, you are devaluing the vote of those particular citizens individually, plus you are cheating particular states out of congressional representation in the House, when other states get more representatives because of individuals who, like tourists, aren’t supposed to be counted during the census for apportionment purposes.
Congressman Jordan: (01:11:53)
Yeah, it’s common sense, [crosstalk 01:11:56] and it also happens to be the Reynolds case, which you cited I think in your opening statement, is that right?
Mr. Spakovsky: (01:12:01)
That’s right, and most importantly, the Franklin versus Massachusetts case gives the president some discretion in determining with the commerce department, and the Secretary of Commerce, the Census Bureau, who should be considered inhabitants of a state, And they made it clear that having allegiance and other ties to a state is an important consideration.
Congressman Jordan: (01:12:28)
That logic, that common sense is exactly what’s behind the president’s July 21st, 2020 apportionment memorandum, where he says count everyone, but provide the number of quote citizens and legal residents to the president and use that number for the apportionment of congressional seats. Is that right?
Mr. Spakovsky: (01:12:47)
That is absolutely correct.
Congressman Jordan: (01:12:49)
Yeah, and everyone understands that’s how it should work. Anyone with common sense, the court decisions understand that. The only people who are against that are Democrats. Isn’t that amazing. Democrats want illegals to be part of the count to determine the number of members each state has in the United States House of Representatives. Now to me, that’s frightening that that’s their argument, that’s their logic, or lack of logic I should say, that goes against common sense, goes against the court ruling, goes against the memorandum, goes against what any person you go out and talk to on the street would say needs to happen when we’re counting the people. Count everyone, but for the purposes of apportionment, we need to know the number of legal residents and citizens in this country. Does that make sense to you Mr. Von Spakovsky?
Mr. Spakovsky: (01:13:33)
Yes, I agree with that 100%.
Congressman Jordan: (01:13:36)
Madam Chair, I yield back.
Chairwoman Maloney: (01:13:39)
Gentlemen yields back. Congressman Clay, you are now recognized.
Congressman Clay: (01:13:44)
Thank you so much, Madam Chair, for holding this important hearing. Let me say to Director Thompson, so good to see you again. And we had a great working relationship during the 2010 census and you and I know that the census is a once in a decade government function, enshrined in our constitution and conducted since 1790. I would hope this would not be the census taken in our nation’s long history that will be followed by an asterisk, as incomplete or not a full account because of selfish, political reason.
Congressman Clay: (01:14:34)
Director Thompson, and let’s be very clear about one thing, the changes to the apportionment and redistricting deadlines was first requested by the Census Bureau and the Trump administration, before the Trump administration Sutton reversal. How do we prevent a serious under count or an incomplete census from occurring at this stage of this process?
Mr. Thompson: (01:15:08)
Thank you, Congressman. At this point, the Census Bureau simply needs more time to do its data collection and to do its post data collection process. So for example, the Census Bureau had announced that as of September 11th, which is tomorrow, they were going to go to what they call close out in the entire country for the non-response follow operation. And what close out means as they send out people to get a last resort, last attempt, basic bare information on households. Maybe they’ll just get a count of people at the household or a partial count, or maybe they’ll only get that the household is occupied. That’s tomorrow, and you think there are some area census offices that the Census Bureau is publishing data for that right now are under 50% complete with non-response followup. I would think that would be pretty scary to me. So the Census Bureau needs more time to do the data collection and they certainly need more time to do the data processing.
Congressman Clay: (01:16:17)
And that is why it’s so important that we extend these delivery dates, is that correct?
Mr. Thompson: (01:16:25)
Congressman Clay: (01:16:27)
Let me go to Mr. Mihm. Mr. Mihm, why was it important for the Bureau to delay census operations after the outbreak of the Coronavirus?
Mr. Mihm: (01:16:43)
Well, sir, like the rest of the country and certainly like the Congress, the Census Bureau just had to in effect is shut down, nationally and not just in local areas. The spiking of the cases meant that it was very difficult to get people on board. This would be the census takers that would be actually doing the work. It would be… They were quite certain that they would not be able to get participation from communities or people opening the doors. They had to obviously stop all of their in person partnership programs, and there’s only so much you can do over Webex and Zoom, especially with a partnership program. So the Census Bureau concluded that there was just no effective way at the peak of the COVID outbreaks, at least at that point in time, that they could carry on operations. They then went through a very disciplined process in June, a very thoughtful one using criteria of which offices would reopen when based on local health conditions and the availability of PPE for census takers. And so now they’re open nationally.
Congressman Clay: (01:17:49)
Let me ask you, Mr. Mihm, on July 8th, 2020, Al Fonteneau, the associate director for the Centennial census programs, referring to the December 31st, 2020 deadline, stated, and I quote, “We are past the window of being able to get those counts by those dates at this point.” End of quote. Mr. Mihm, do you agree with the Bureau’s public statement that the Bureau is past the time where they can produce complete and accurate census data by their current deadlines?
Mr. Mihm: (01:18:25)
Sir, I know Mr. Fonteneau well, I talk to him often, as well as Mr. Jarman, that Congressman Jordan referenced, and I have the utmost respect for them. I think it will be an enormous challenge for the Census Bureau to deliver counts that meet the increasing historical demands for accuracy and completeness. Each census has gotten better than the preceding one in a general sense. And that’s been a big achievement in an environment in which, obviously society continues to change, public willingness to participate has gone down, yet we’re still doing better with each census. I think the great worry that now is whether or not this would be a census that takes a step back due to the compressed timeframes, due to COVID-19 and the other challenges that they’re running into.
Congressman Clay: (01:19:14)
I thank you for your responses and Madam Chair, I yield back.
Chairwoman Maloney: (01:19:19)
Thank you so much Representative Clay, for your thoughtful questions and in line with your questions without objections, I would like to place into the record, this internal document from census professionals that I released along with the other democratic members last week. And in it, the professionals say they need more time. And in it, they say that this compressed schedule creates risks for serious errors that would not be discovered from the data. So I ask this without objection, it’s in the record. I now recognize Congressman Grothman.
Congressman Grothman: (01:19:59)
Thank you very much. Can you hear me?
Chairwoman Maloney: (01:20:01)
Yes, we can. Thank you.
Congressman Grothman: (01:20:04)
Very good. I got a couple of questions here for Mr. Von Spakovsky. Kind of a follow up on what my colleague Jim Jordan had to say. It’s apparent that one of the reasons people want to extend this, and is this what you get from the hearing, is they want to find more people, and particularly it seems they want to find more illegal immigrants. Do you kind of get that sense here?
Mr. Spakovsky: (01:20:30)
Well, I don’t know about that. Look, just like everybody else, I do want an accurate count, but I think it’s very important that aliens who are here illegally not be included in apportionment, that they not be included in redistricting, and that we know the number of non citizens in order to be able to effectively enforce section two of the voting rights act, which is a very important statute.
Congressman Grothman: (01:20:58)
I think it’s interesting in what we’ve seen so far here in this hearing, apparently people who want to extend it, feel that there are people out there haven’t been counted and I don’t know how you can avoid being counted because it’s so difficult. But do you think one of the problems we have as we let this thing drag on, is you could have people double counted as they move about the country?
Mr. Spakovsky: (01:21:22)
Well, that’s always been a problem with a census and I would bring up history here. Look, at over the past few decades, every single census we’ve had, there’ve been huge cries and criticisms say, “Oh, it’s not going to be accurate. People are going to be under counted.” And in every single one of those, that has proven not to be true.
Congressman Grothman: (01:21:43)
Okay. I’m thinking of over counting college students, people who move that sort of thing. Do you think that’s particularly where you’d find overcoming?
Mr. Spakovsky: (01:21:54)
Yes. Particularly because as you know, so many students have left their colleges and gone home, and many of them were still there on April 1st and now may not be there and may get double counted.
Congressman Grothman: (01:22:07)
Is it possible that if you begin to look for people in October, September, that you’re also going to get people who were already counted in August, just people who in general have moved since that time?
Mr. Spakovsky: (01:22:19)
Most certainly, given the very high mobility of the American populace.
Congressman Grothman: (01:22:25)
Right. Do you think people who shouldn’t be here at all are particularly mobile or there’s a particular danger that they could be over counted? At least I’m under the impression a lot of times they do seasonal work. They may want to obey the law and leave the country or whatever. Do you think that’s a particular problem with people who aren’t here legally?
Mr. Spakovsky: (01:22:46)
Yes. I think that is a very big risk, in particular because I think aliens tend to move or lave when they see in the press and elsewhere that there are vigorous enforcement efforts going on by the Department of Homeland Security in their particular area.
Congressman Grothman: (01:23:03)
So in other words, if we’re worried about double counting and we begin to allow this census counting to go on, say into October, do you think disproportionately, we will be over counting illegal immigrants?
Mr. Spakovsky: (01:23:18)
I don’t have enough-
Congressman Grothman: (01:23:19)
[inaudible 01:23:19] over counting.
Mr. Spakovsky: (01:23:21)
I can’t answer that question, but I think that is a substantial risk.
Congressman Grothman: (01:23:26)
Okay. And could you explain again, the effect of counting illegal immigrants, what effect this will have on individual states who may be even aggressively trying to recruit illegal immigrants. States that have a disproportionately high number, California being an obvious one.
Mr. Spakovsky: (01:23:49)
What it means is that states that incentivize illegal aliens to come to their state, particularly by putting in sanctuary policies, are using those populations to get more congressional seats than they are entitled to at the cost of other states in the country that lose congressional seats which they ought to have, because they don’t have those large numbers of illegal aliens in their state. So it distorts what should be the equitable political distribution of the US House of Representatives.
Congressman Grothman: (01:24:25)
Okay. And you feel, I suppose, that’s true. Does it even create a perverse incentive for states-
Mr. Spakovsky: (01:24:31)
Congressman Grothman: (01:24:31)
-to adopt say, sanctuary policies, and say we want to foil our immigration laws because we want more illegal people in our state. That’s what it’s encouraging?
Mr. Spakovsky: (01:24:42)
Yes. I think that’s exactly what it does.
Congressman Grothman: (01:24:44)
Wow, that’s really something. Well, thank you. I’ll yield the remainder of my time if I have any.
Mr. Spakovsky: (01:24:52)
Thank you. The gentleman yields back. Congressman Lynch you are now recognized.
Congressman Hice: (01:24:57)
Thank you Madam Chair. I want to thank you for having this hearing, and I appreciate the contribution of our witnesses. May I gently suggest, today’s hearing questioning… We went to this hearing for an hour and 15 minutes before we got to questions. I know we had some technical difficulties, things like that, but if I could gently suggest that we might be able to streamline these a little bit, that might be helpful. I know how hard our staff works, but that’s a long time, because now I’m going to be an hour late for my next hearing, and I know there are a number of members on the committee in that position. So just, if we could kind of figure that out, especially where we’re starting to get into the normal flow of business again, it will be problematic.
Congressman Hice: (01:25:45)
To save me a little bit of time and everybody else, let me just associate myself with the articulate remarks of the gentlemen from Maryland, Mr. Rascon and his opening statement, his summation. I agree wholeheartedly with the concerns that he has raised, and I appreciate the energy and the intellect that he has put into those remarks. I would like to just take a small piece of the problem and try to get at that in my question. So I, with Congresswoman Presley, represent the Boston area. We both represent the city of Boston. We’ve got a huge number of universities and colleges here in the greater Boston area, Cambridge and all that.
Congressman Hice: (01:26:32)
And my question is about… and maybe Ms. Carlos, you sound like you’re the person that might be best able to answer this question, but we have not been able to identify up to now students who are normally counted. So these are not students on campus, but, the students who live, which is the great majority, live off campus. We have not been able to get them in the count. And part of that is we’re not getting the full cooperation, because of the pandemic, that we normally get from the universities, and also the curtailment of going out and getting these non-response followups and our FU’s in the tally.
Congressman Hice: (01:27:22)
So are there are any thoughts that you have regarding how, what we might be better? Look, there are a lot of college towns all across this country that are having the same problem. And for that particular difficulty, do you have any recommendations about how we might best count that demographic. Mr. Mihm from GAO, we’ve also heard from the inspector general of the GAO concerns that off campus college students are being under counted. That’s what we’re finding in our area. So I would just ask the witnesses if they might be able to help us out on that. What’s a better way to get those people in the tally?
Stacy Carlos: (01:28:09)
Thank you for that question. I do think that one thing that could be done is a more concentrated effort on actually reaching out to colleges and universities and their administration, to not only make sure that they’re consistently sharing the message of the importance of the census for off campus students to make sure that they’re being counted, but also providing them with quick and easy tools, because they have a lot of things going on. And if you give them the messages to disseminate so that they could tweet it out to their students, or email, whatever way they communicate, I think that would make a world of difference, but that has not been done to date, as far as I know.
Congressman Hice: (01:28:44)
Great. Mr. Mihm, you got anything you want to add?
Mr. Mihm: (01:28:47)
Yes, sir, just very briefly. There’s actually two issues here, as you were alluding to. One is the enumeration of students that are living in on campus housing. There’s about 40,000 of those nationally. The Bureau was able to reach out to universities and get what they feel is a, at least an okay count on that of about 82, 81 and a half percent or so response for those.
Mr. Mihm: (01:29:10)
The bigger challenge, as you were mentioning, is those that are living off campus, but yet still attending to the university, and obviously the Census Bureau doesn’t have access necessarily to all that information. What they did do is the Census Bureau director in the middle of June, sent out a letter to about 1,350 different universities saying, “Hey, can you help us with some of the count here?” And they got some good response, but they also said it had some uneven response. They had quite a number of the universities wrote back and said, “We’re not going to participate or cooperate as it were with helping you get a count of students that are living off campus.” And so to the extent that we could kind of urge those universities to participate, that would be very helpful.
Mr. Mihm: (01:29:53)
Also, the issue of course, as has been discussed throughout the hearing is that it’s one thing if a census day takes place, when students are residing on their campus, it’s at least an easier kind of intellectual point to say, “Hey, this is their usual residence.” If they are home and have been home for several week, and are still home, this is where they would live outside the university, it gets tougher to… You can see how they would be missed in their university towns, where if that is where they would normally attend, that is their usual residence and where that they should indeed be counted.
Congressman Hice: (01:30:29)
Okay. My time is exhausted. I do want to say that it’s a wonderful to see Mr. [inaudible 01:30:35] and you look great there, Mark. And I yield back, thank you.
Chairwoman Maloney: (01:30:42)
The gentleman yields back. Thank you for your remarks. And we now recognize Representative Gosar, you are now recognized. Congressman Gosar, you are now recognized. He doesn’t understand.
Speaker 3: (01:31:09)
I believe he’s trying to unmute.
Chairwoman Maloney: (01:31:10)
I believe he’s trying to unmute. Mr. Gosar, would you like help un-muting? Okay. Unmute.
Congressman Gosar: (01:31:35)
Sorry about that, I’m traveling [inaudible 01:31:36]. Did that hit? Can you hear me now.
Chairwoman Maloney: (01:31:39)
Yes, we can hear you now.
Congressman Gosar: (01:31:42)
Oh, thank you very much, Chairwoman. Census data reported that as of yesterday, 80.8% of Arizona is enumerated. This is well below the majority of states. Yet just a few days prior to this report, the Census Bureau stated that Arizona was just 76.2% enumerated. This appears to be a very productive spike in a short number of days. Mr. Mihm, do you think the Census Bureau’s decision to move enumerators from high response areas to the Southwest and Southeast, which is where a large portion of the non-response followup is not completed, contributed to this increase in my state?
Mr. Mihm: (01:32:17)
Sir, I’m not able to speak specifically to that particular case. What I can say is as more as a general rule, the Bureau with each census has moved census takers to areas where they had been particularly having problems, either recruiting or had a particularly high non-response workload. It’s not something that they like to do because obviously it can be costly, and it’s also, there can be some data quality concerns, but it is something that’s been tried and true as an enumeration technique and has shown itself to be successful. So it very well could be a situation in your case as well.
Congressman Gosar: (01:32:55)
So now with that said, what role has technology played in the self response rate, which is 5% higher than the Bureau’s goal, and the 88.2%…
Congressman Gosar: (01:33:02)
Which is 5% higher than the Bureau’s goal and the 88.2% total enumerating rate.
Mr. Mihm: (01:33:06)
Yeah. It’s been a great advantage to the Census Bureau, and obviously, credit to them for pulling it off. First, in terms of the initial response, the internet option that many of us availed ourselves of worked, and pretty much without a hitch. And it was convenient and easy, and it was very, very helpful to the Bureau. It reduces paper and all the rest. And so that was a big and important improvement.
Mr. Mihm: (01:33:31)
Likewise, this time, being able to use technology in the enumeration as part of non-response follow-up is proving itself to be quite valuable. There’s always a set of kind of technical glitches that take place, but overall that’s proving to be very valuable as well. So I think one of the stories, not withstanding some continuing concerns with ESL technology, but when this is over, in terms of the fundamental bedrock enumeration, is the use of technology is going to be a generally positive story.
Congressman Gosar: (01:34:03)
It really would support broadband throughout the country.
Mr. Mihm: (01:34:10)
I’ll take your point, sir. It’s not my brief, sorry.
Congressman Gosar: (01:34:13)
Sounds good. Mr. Mihm, in August, your Strategic Issues team released a report outlining concerns with the count. Given the large enumerated rates, operational changes made by the Bureau, halt in staff layoffs, and the statements of confidence and accuracy meeting the September 30th deadline made by Mr. Fontenot, Olson, and Jarmin, all senior level nonpolitical Census officials. Do you still stand by your team’s report?
Mr. Mihm: (01:34:38)
Yes, sir. And as I mentioned, is that I know Mr. Fontenot, I know Mr. Jarmin well, and I have deep respect with them, and it’s an important data point, their sense of confidence and their ability to produce the counts. Our concern is the risks that are entailed in that. Does that mean that they will not present a count at the end? Of course not. I think they will. What the challenge will be is, is it going to be a better count than we have gotten into in the past, because each census has generally gotten better on that, and will it meet to kind of the standards and the needs of the country for an accurate and complete count? That’s the risk that’s entailed in that, risk also means that they could very easily do it, but it’s going to be an enormous challenge for the Bureau.
Congressman Gosar: (01:35:25)
One follow up in regards to counting Native American tribe members, which are very large in my state, like the Navajo Nation, which was locked down. Was it easier to get ahold of people when they were in lockdown, or was it harder?
Mr. Mihm: (01:35:42)
On the whole, it’s … The issue with enumeration in tribal communities has been a historical challenge for the Census Bureau. Some of it is dealing just with recruitment problems, and the initial response rates have tended to be quite low. And in fact, one of the areas that I know the Census Bureau is most concerned about is Window Rock in Navajo Nation. That has both low response, that is a high workload for the follow-up, as well as experiencing recruiting problems. And so there’s traditionally been problems there. We heard the governor talk earlier about just the enormous challenges of how COVID has just been devastating in many of the tribal communities. That certainly makes things even more difficult, both for those communities, obviously, and for the Census Bureau.
Congressman Gosar: (01:36:32)
Thank you very much, and I yield back.
Mr. Raskin: (01:36:47)
We’re going to recognize the gentleman from Virginia, Mr. Connolly, for his five minutes.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and I thank you and Carolyn Maloney for your diligence on the subject. And let me also welcome Mark DeSaulnier back. We’re so glad to have you back. You’ve been in our prayers, and we’re glad to see you, you’re looking great.
Let me begin, Mr. Chairman, by saying that I find Mr. Jordan and Mr. von Spakovsky’s references to human beings as illegal aliens as offensive. I don’t believe that kind of language ought to be part of our discourse in this committee. It demeans human beings and makes them things rather than the human persons they in fact are, whose status may be up in the air. There may be lots of reasons why somebody is undocumented in the United States, and that’s always been the case historically. Mr. Mihm and Mr. Thompson, what does the Constitution say with respect to who gets counted in the census? Mr. Thompson? Director Thompson?
Mr. Thompson: (01:37:59)
Well, thank you, Congressman. First, let me state that I am not a constitutional lawyer. However, the advice that I got when I was at the Census Bureau as a career person and as director from some very good attorneys was that the purpose of the census was to count everyone residing in the United States regardless of immigration status.
Well, you don’t need to be a constitutional lawyer to read the words. The words are ” all persons,” is that not correct?
Mr. Thompson: (01:38:31)
Yes. So it doesn’t say, “Except for those who lack proper papers,” is that correct?
Mr. Thompson: (01:38:40)
And has it been the practice of the Census Bureau to, in fact, comply with the words of the Constitution and count all persons to the best of their ability?
Mr. Thompson: (01:38:52)
Throughout my long experience with the Census Bureau, they always did their best to count everyone in the United States.
It’s also interesting to hear Mr. von Spakovsky talk about diluting the votes of those who are legally in the United States. And I’m glad to hear that commitment from him and Mr. Jordan because I look forward to their joining us in opposing voter suppression that dilutes votes, and purging voting rolls and making it harder to vote and eliminating early voting or curtailing it, or changing precincts arbitrarily to make it hard for especially people in minority communities to vote. Those kinds of voter suppression issues are to be condemned, and I’m certainly looking forward to their support in that condemnation.
Mr. Mihm and Mr. Thompson, it has been the practice of the Census Bureau to try to get data early to states that undertake re-districting early. And two that come to mind are my home state of Virginia and the state of New Jersey because we have off-off year elections next year. So we actually have legislative elections in 2021, and it’s been the practice historically of the Census Bureau to try to get our data early so that we can undertake our redistricting appropriately in anticipation of those elections next year. How might the actions being proposed now in terms of curtailing the census or wrapping it up early, how might that affect the ability of the Census Bureau to get accurate data to those two states?
Mr. Mihm: (01:40:48)
Mr. Connolly, thank you. As a resident of Virginia, obviously this is a very important issue for me personally. We have asked the Census Bureau that, and we understand that they are due to come out with a plan within the next couple of days as to how they are going to be able to deliver the apportionment … or rather the redistricting data, is that one of the trade-offs that they’re making due to the cutting of the amount of time that’s available for processing to get the apportionment data is they’re focusing only on apportionment or almost exclusively on apportionment data at this point. There are other data, obviously, that’s important for redistricting and, obviously, needed at a much lower geographic level. That’s something in which they said that they’re going to be providing a plan within the next few days. I understand on that, that’s something that we’re going to be looking for. And obviously, we would keep you and your office and the committee informed on any observations we have on that plan.
I just think it’s important in my final three seconds to underscore that there are some states that are more affected immediately than others, and Virginia and New Jersey are [inaudible 00:08:57]. So thank you so much for that observation, and I yield back, Mr. Chairman
Mr. Raskin: (01:42:03)
Thank you very much, Mr. Connolly. We will now recognize Mr. Palmer for his five minutes of questioning. Mr. Palmer.
Thank you. And I too welcome Mr. DeSaulnier back to the committee. I’ve been greatly concerned for him.
One of the things I want to point out is we’ve started talking about the unauthorized population. The unauthorized immigrant population, according to Pew, has stabilized over the last decade or so. But I think they also found a consistent amount of transiency, that is people coming in and out of the country, staying for a short amount of time and then returning to their countries of origin. Pew reports that to be about 20% are here less than five years, and almost 40% are here less than 10 years. And that doesn’t include non-citizens who are here legally short term, such as college students and guest workers. So I have some questions here that I’d like to ask to Governor Lewis. Actually, I’ll start with Miss Carless. Should we allow non-citizens to run for office?
Stacy Carlos: (01:43:24)
The Constitution would not allow non-citizens to run for office.
I know what the law is. I ask you, and these are yes or no questions, should we allow non-citizens to run for office?
Stacy Carlos: (01:43:37)
No, we should uphold the Constitution.
Should we allow non-citizens to make campaign contributions to political candidates?
Stacy Carlos: (01:43:46)
Should we allow non-citizens to vote in our elections?
Stacy Carlos: (01:43:51)
Okay. Governor Lewis, the same questions. Should we allow non-citizens to run for office? Is he still with us?
Governor Lewis: (01:44:02)
I am. Thank you, Congressman. As a Native American leader, we know we have a history of not being considered citizens, even though we were the first Americans.
Well, sir, I’m just asking you a straightforward yes or no question. Should non-citizens be allowed to vote?
Governor Lewis: (01:44:23)
I would defer-
Should they be allowed to run for office, or-
Governor Lewis: (01:44:25)
… should they be allowed to make campaign contributions?
Governor Lewis: (01:44:29)
I would defer to the Constitution-
Then your answer would be no.
Governor Lewis: (01:44:33)
… and what the Constitution says.
And thank you for that.
Governor Lewis: (01:44:36)
I also have Native American heritage as well, so I really appreciate you being here. I’d also ask that to Mr. Thomas. Should we allow … I think everybody’s going to say no. Is that fair to say, Mr. Thompson, Mr. Mihm?
Mr. Thompson: (01:44:56)
I think that’s a good assumption, Congressmen. I would uphold the Constitution.
Okay. Then let me ask this. If we don’t allow them to run for office, if we don’t allow them to make a campaign contributions, and if we don’t allow them to vote, why would we count them for apportionment purposes, particularly considering the transient nature of so many of them? I mean, 20% who are here less than five years, that’s over two million people. And that’s not counting the people who are here legally on a short- term basis, like it says, college students and guest workers. So does it make sense that we would count them for apportionment when so many of them won’t even be here? And that would be so disruptive of our system of apportionment that we literally would deny representation to citizens who are here legally. Mr. Spakovsky, could you respond to that?
Mr. Spakovsky: (01:46:04)
Well, I agree with you. They should not be included in apportionment. If they can’t vote, which I don’t believe they should, if they can’t make campaign contribution, and if they can’t run for office, there’s no reason to include them in apportionment. And I might point out that, in fact, in 2015, the Congressional Research Service actually did a study saying if apportionment after the 2010 census had been based on citizen population, if they had not included non-citizens, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Virginia would all today have an additional seat in the US House of Representatives. They’ve been cheated-
Chairman Raskin, I want to suspend my time to ask how much time I have left because the clock disappeared.
Mr. Raskin: (01:46:51)
Counting 24 seconds, but we’ll be liberal with that as with all things, Mr. Palmer. The floor is yours.
You are always very kind to me, and I am grateful for that. Thanks, sir. All right. The reason that we don’t allow non-citizens to participate in our elections is because it could have a deleterious impact on our ability to govern ourselves as a representative republic. That’s the reason why we shouldn’t count non-citizens for apportionment, because it will have a very negative impact on our ability to continue this great experiment in representative government. And again, I thank the chairman for extending my time. Your kindness is noted and appreciated, and I yield back.
Mr. Raskin: (01:47:40)
Thank you very much, Mr. Palmer, for those very interesting questions. And I will now recognize myself for my five minutes of questions. And Director Thompson, I want to start with you. Some people seem to be a little cavalier, at least to my ears, about losing 3% of the population in a census count. How many people is 3% of the American population?
Mr. Thompson: (01:48:10)
Well, Congressman, right now there’s about 340, 350 million people in the United States, so 3% of that would be millions of people.
Mr. Raskin: (01:48:22)
It would be around 10 million or perhaps over 10 million people. Right?
Mr. Thompson: (01:48:25)
Mr. Raskin: (01:48:27)
And if you look at our committee, I think 10 million people is more than 16 of the states that are represented on our committee. I just went through. I saw Alabama would be less than that, Arizona, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Dakota, South Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, West Virginia, Wisconsin, my home state of Maryland, the District of Columbia, and on and on. So 3% may not seem like a big deal, although of course we know lots of elections are settled by 3% of the vote, but what do you think about the proposition that a group of Americans the size of these states and, in some cases, combinations of them … 10 million is more than the combined populations of Tennessee, West Virginia, and North Dakota. What do you make of the proposition that that’s no big deal, and we should just go ahead and blow the whistle and stop counting and run the risk that millions of people might not be counted?
Mr. Thompson: (01:49:31)
I think that would be a really, really bad to miss that many people, especially at the national level. And I would say that it wouldn’t be the same in every state. It would vary considerably. I would think the issues right now that would be at greatest risk are those issues where the-
Mr. Raskin: (01:49:54)
It could hit every state, right? It could hit all of our states.
Mr. Thompson: (01:49:55)
It would affect every state, some more than others. In fact, in those states right now that have very low completion rates for non-response follow-up, I think they’re at great risk right now.
Mr. Raskin: (01:50:08)
All right. Well, let me follow up with this because I feel like we’ve been kind of speaking past each other today, the way we sometimes do, but most of the experts that we’ve heard from, as well as this document that the chair referred to that was released by the Census Bureau from August 3rd, say that the Census Bureau needs more time to do an accurate account. And yet our colleagues on the other side of the aisle come back and say that we shouldn’t be counting undocumented aliens.
Mr. Raskin: (01:50:49)
Isn’t that basically changing the subject? Regardless of where you stand as a matter of constitutional law or statutory law on their argument that in future censuses undocumented aliens shouldn’t be counted for the first time in American history, regardless of where you stand on that, isn’t that an irrelevant distraction from what we’re really here to talk about today, which is whether the Census Bureau needs more time to count millions of Americans who may be lost if we don’t give them an extension?
Mr. Thompson: (01:51:22)
I think that’s the interpretation you are making, Congressman.
Mr. Raskin: (01:51:27)
Well, it’s definitely the interpretation I’m making, but I guess what I’m saying is, is there anything logically connected between the two? I mean, I could go to some of the other witnesses who might feel free to opine on that. I don’t know. Well, let me continue. Let’s see.
Mr. Raskin: (01:51:49)
The Census Bureau document that was referenced by the Chairwoman Maloney was dated August 3rd, and Census officials warned Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross that a push to deliver census data before December 31st would cause data products to be, quote, “negatively impacted.” They said that the loss of activities eliminated under the new schedule would reduce accuracy, it would create risk for serious errors not being discovered in the data, and so on.
Mr. Raskin: (01:52:24)
Mr. Mihm, let me come to you. Does GAO’s independent analysis also show that the compressed procedures under the new schedule in the midst of this pandemic would reduce accuracy and create a risk of serious errors not being discovered?
Mr. Mihm: (01:52:42)
Yes, sir. We are concerned both from the pressure that’s put to get out off the field, the reduction by one month, from the end of October to the end of September, and the reduction of about from 150 days to about 90 days in order to do the processing. Either one of them would be a very difficult lift. The two of them together could be an extraordinary one for the Census Bureau.
Mr. Mihm: (01:53:06)
One other point just very quickly, sir, is that you were mentioning about the 10 million, is that obviously the salient point there is that it’s not evenly distributed or would not be evenly distributed across the country. If it were, we could probably live with it, and census geeks like Mr. Thompson and myself would worry about it. But the problem of course is that it’s not evenly distributed. It’s disproportionate in certain communities and certain localities, geographic and demographic areas. And so that’s the big challenge in terms of the distribution of federal funds, in terms of the appropriate distribution of political power and representation.
Mr. Raskin: (01:53:44)
I got you. We’re not going to lose an entire state, but we could have a state lose an entire congressional district, and it could affect state legislative redistricting, and of course the distribution of money.
Mr. Raskin: (01:53:54)
Let me just ask you, Director Mihm, before I turn it over to Mr. Comer, do you agree that the contested question about whether people should be counted even if they can’t vote, like undocumented people or children or prisoners and so on, that that question doesn’t need to be resolved in order to deal with the analytically distinct question of whether the Census Bureau needs more time to count all Americans?
Mr. Mihm: (01:54:23)
The short answer to that is yes, sir. In the sense that, obviously, as a support agency to the Congress, we don’t have a position on the policy question about who should be included or included in-
Mr. Raskin: (01:54:34)
It’s a separate issue. It’s [crosstalk 01:54:37].
Mr. Mihm: (01:54:37)
That’s a separate issue for us. What our concern is, is the operational implications.
Mr. Raskin: (01:54:43)
Thank you very much, Mr. Mihm. I appreciate that. I’m going to recognize Mr. Comer.
Chairwoman Maloney: (01:54:47)
The gentleman’s time has expired. The gentleman’s time has expired.
Mr. Raskin: (01:54:47)
I’m going to recognize Mr. Comer for his five minutes of questioning.
Chairwoman Maloney: (01:54:48)
Mr. Rouda [inaudible 01:54:49] Mr. Rouda. Okay, Congressman Rouda is now recognized. Mr. Comer, we understand, had wanted … Mr. Comer-
Mr. Raskin: (01:55:04)
[crosstalk 01:55:04] Chairwoman-
Chairwoman Maloney: (01:55:04)
… wanted to defer to Mr. Rouda, to another Democratic witness, so Mr. Rouda, you are now recognized.
Thank you, Madam Chairwoman. Can you confirm you can hear me?
Chairwoman Maloney: (01:55:13)
We can hear you.
Great. Thank you very much. As we know, the impacts of the census are wide reaching. Census data affects congressional representation in the allocation of trillions of dollars in federal funding. Earlier this year, we learned the damage that could be done to our communities by just a 1% undercount. In fact, in Orange County, in my district, we learned that if there is a 1% undercount of low income students, schools could lose over a quarter million dollars in federal funding. The equivalent of all the textbooks that nearly 1,000 students would need in an entire school year. And a 1% undercount of low income workers in my district means a loss of approximately $160,000 in federal funding for job training programs, apprenticeship programs, and career counseling. Clearly, rushing to complete the census and eliminating crucial data and quality control measures could have real consequences for students and workers across the country.
And it’s not just the distribution of federal funds that could be impacted by an incorrect or incomplete 2020 Census. The area that has the most devastating effects is on the American businesses, and the US business community has come out strongly in favor of extending the statutory deadline for completing this census. In an August letter, 87 business groups and companies wrote that population and demographic data from the census is, quote, “vital to businesses across America to promote economic development, identify potential customers, and create jobs.” They went on to say that rushing the census would, quote, “drastically undermine the quality of the data that we rely on so dearly and harm every state, every business, and every industry in the country relying upon the resulting data.”
Madam Chairwoman, I ask unanimous consent to have this letter into the record … to enter it into the record.
Chairwoman Maloney: (01:57:14)
Thank you. Mr. Thompson, this letter from members of the business community specifically mentions the American Community Survey and the Economic Census as two Census Bureau programs on which it, quote, ” directly depends.” Is it accurate that the data from the decennial census is used for both of these programs?
Mr. Thompson: (01:57:38)
Well, the data for the decennial census is used somewhat for the Economic Census, but it’s critical for the American Community Survey to be fully representative. The census data are carried forward each year in the form of population estimates, and those data are used to make sure that the American Community Survey is very representative. So if the census data were to have a 10% undercount in it, for example, that will be carried forward, and that 10% underrepresentation would be reflected in the American Community Survey for 10 years.
So what you’re basically saying is if we don’t get this right, businesses across the United States, big businesses, medium-sized businesses, small businesses, who are relying on the quality of this data being correct will be making business decisions that could be wrong because the data is wrong, which could cost cities and states millions and millions of dollars in tax revenue? In addition, it could put these companies at risk of making poor decisions, is that correct?
Mr. Thompson: (01:58:47)
That’s correct, Congressman.
And that’s why chambers of commerce from across the country, including the California Chamber of Commerce, the Texas Chamber of Commerce, the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, and commerces all in between, across our great country, joined this letter to express their concerns about a rushed and inaccurate census. Governor Lewis and Miss Carless, would it be fair to say that a rushed census stands to have a negative impact on businesses in your communities? Governor Lewis, would you like to go first?
Governor Lewis: (01:59:25)
This is the Governor Lewis. Yes, definitely. For tribes and for the Gila River Indian Community, we rely on our businesses for 75% of our revenue. And that is especially critical as we are moving through the pandemic. This would have a devastating effect on the nation-building economy that we’re trying to maintain through this pandemic. And of course, the numbers are going to be for a decade, and this would definitely have a … it would have a devastating effect, not only the Gila River Indian Community, but to tribes across Indian country.
Thank you. Miss Carless?
Stacy Carlos: (02:00:04)
Thank you. I would co-sign with the other witness. It would have a devastating effect on North Carolina as well. Our business community definitely relies on accurate census data in regards to where to place factories, as well as how to plan for growth and jobs in our communities. So it would have a devastating impact.
Well, thank you very much. This is just another manufactured crisis by this administration, and I yield back.
Chairwoman Maloney: (02:00:31)
Gentleman yields back. And also with Representative Comer’s request, I’m going to another Democratic representative. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, you are now recognized. Please unmute yourself. Okay, she’s working on it.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz: (02:00:52)
Thank you, Madam Chair. I’m sorry. That wasn’t the problem. I was [inaudible 00: 27:56]. Okay. Okay. Thank you so much. In Florida, we have faced an uphill battle to counteract the Trump administration’s effort [inaudible 02:01:23] in minority and immigrant communities. In the most recent figures available, Florida ranks 43rd among states in the percent of the population that’s been enumerated. The self-response rates in South Florida communities that I represent are behind where they were in 2010. We are at serious risk of an undercount that will have devastating consequences for rural, Black, and immigrant communities, the very Floridians that are most in need of political representation and federal dollars, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz: (02:01:54)
Mr. Mihm, in its August report, the GAO raised concerns about the risks created by the late design changes to the 2020 Census. In particular, the report states, and I quote, “We have previously reported that late design changes can introduce new risks. Delays, the resulting compressed timeframes, implementation of untested procedures, and continuing challenges such as COVID-19 could escalate census costs and undermine the overall quality of the count.” Mr. Mihm, in your view, was the decision in early August to cut a month out of field operations and two months out of data processing a, quote, “late design change”?
Mr. Mihm: (02:02:31)
Debbie Wasserman Schultz: (02:02:34)
Okay. And what are some of the risks that arise out of the Census Bureau making these schedule cuts in August?
Mr. Mihm: (02:02:40)
I think there are actually two of them. One is that certainly the schedule compression, the reduction in fieldwork by one month and the reduction in over 60 days in terms of the processing at the back end to make sure that there are no errors or problems with the data that could be corrected before the apportionment counts go out. So those were the two major areas that we expressed concern.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz: (02:03:05)
Okay. By contrast, Mr. Mihm, I want to ask about why congressional action to extend the statutory deadlines is a different [inaudible 02:03:13] the Census Bureau an extension to finish field operations and data processing the type of, quote, “late design change” that the GAO has warned about?
Mr. Mihm: (02:03:22)
I’m sorry, ma’am, I regret I didn’t hear the first part of your question.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz: (02:03:27)
Okay. What I said was, by contrast, I want to ask why congressional action to extend the statutory deadlines is a different type of change. Do you consider [inaudible 02:03:44] the GAO has warned about?
Mr. Mihm: (02:03:45)
Well, certainly the Census Bureau has told us that, to the extent that they would get additional time, or that was certainly the plan that they had been operating on up until the end of July, the very first part of August, that they would have an additional four months, that would allow them to be in …
Mr. Mihm: (02:04:03)
… that they would have an additional four months. That would allow them to be into the field through the end of October, as they would planned. It would allow them to have the processing run into January, as again, as they had planned on that.
Just to clarify what I mean, it sounds like you’re more detailed answer is no. It is not what they mean by a late design change. Is that right?
Mr. Mihm: (02:04:27)
Well, the late design changes, the ones that cause concern are those that end up compressing the time or that introduce new and untested procedures. Obviously to the extent that they have some more time, that would give them an opportunity to go through the data, to have additional time in the field. And that had been the plan that the Census Bureau had been operating under for a number of months.
Thank you. Mr. Thompson, [inaudible 02:04:57].
Mr. Thompson: (02:05:07)
I’m sorry, Congresswoman. I didn’t catch what you said.
Okay. [inaudible 02:05:24].
Chairwoman Maloney: (02:05:24)
We’re having technical difficulties. Debbie, we can’t even hear you. You’re going in and out. So I think the gentlewoman’s time has expired.
Chairwoman Maloney: (02:05:35)
Congresswoman Miller, you are now recognized. Congresswoman Miller.
Ms Miller: (02:05:42)
Chairwoman Maloney: (02:05:44)
We can hear you.
Ms Miller: (02:05:45)
Can you hear me?
Chairwoman Maloney: (02:05:45)
Yes, we can.
Ms Miller: (02:05:46)
Good. Because there have been technical issues as well.
Chairwoman Maloney: (02:05:48)
Yes, a lot.
Ms Miller: (02:05:49)
Thank you Chairwoman Maloney, and Ranking Member Comer, and all of you witnesses for being here today to discuss the census. As the census is only a few months from being legally required to be completed, my district could have been a representation of how difficult it can be to get an accurate account. Four of my 18 counties in the district have 100% of the population living in hard to count neighborhoods. I’ve spent the last two years visiting each of these counties. And I can tell you from firsthand experience how truly rural they are.
Ms Miller: (02:06:26)
West Virginia is one of the states that is a success story for the Census Bureau and their non-response followup operation. After having one of the lowest self responses rates in the country, West Virginia has had over 97% of all households enumerated. Ranking second among all the states.
Ms Miller: (02:06:47)
With 21 days left to finish the enumeration, the census workers in my states are doing a fantastic job, and I applaud the Census Bureau for diligently completing this important duty in a particularly difficult area to count. However, instead of giving the Census Bureau the time needed to implement its strategies, this committee seems to have spent our hearings attacking our duly elected president and his constitutional and lawful actions to protect the census, our elections, and accurately apportioning congressional seats. And it would directly affect me.
Ms Miller: (02:07:25)
American citizens deserve fair and accurate representation in Congress. And it is the duty of the federal government to ensure apportionment is completed correctly. Counting people living in the United States illegally in apportionment is an attack on our democratic institution and seeks to take away the voice of the American citizens. I strongly support what President Trump has done in trying to protect the sanctity of our congressionally mandated apportionment process. And I urge my colleagues to stop hindering the census any further. Mr. [Sparkovski 02:17:22] , why should Americans be concerned about vote dilution?
Mr. Spakovsky: (02:08:05)
Look, vote dilution is something that all Americans should be concerned about. Almost all of the cases filed under the Voting Rights Act, under section two of the Voting Rights Act over the last three decades, particularly when it comes to redistricting have been vote dilution cases. We don’t want the votes of individual Americans, no matter what their race or ethnic background from being diluted and devalued, and to be less of a value than that of other voters. But that’s exactly what happens when you include non-citizens, when you include aliens, not only in the apportionment process, but also in the redistricting process.
Mr. Spakovsky: (02:08:58)
And this is particularly true also, you could see the importance of this in the lawsuits that have been filed, as I’ve said before, by both Republican and Democratic justice departments to enforce section two of the Voting Rights Act when they are coming up with a remedy, which often is a majority-minority district, one in which minority voters are actually a majority of the voters. They try to use citizen voting age population because otherwise they’re not going to be able to put in an effective remedy. And that’s why it is extremely important that the population count yes, be accurate, but that we also have account of the citizens and non-citizens in the country.
Ms Miller: (02:09:41)
Well, how does the president’s memorandum on apportionment mitigate the damage of vote dilution?
Mr. Spakovsky: (02:09:48)
Well, he’s issued two memorandums. One directing the entire executive branch to forward all records that they have on citizenship status to the Census Bureau. And second, to not include, it’s not that we’re not going to count aliens who are in this country illegally, but they should not be included in the apportionment process. And as I’ve said, that is within his statutory authority, it’s within the precedent set by the Supreme Court. And if I may just say very quickly, in response to an earlier comment, the term illegal alien is the correct legal term. That is a term used in federal immigration law and it is a term used in U. S. Supreme Court decisions.
Ms Miller: (02:10:33)
What issues do you see arising because this administration was blocked from asking the constitutional citizenship question on this year’s census?
Mr. Spakovsky: (02:10:43)
Well, look, the big issue is will the records produced by the executive branch produce enough information to give us an accurate count of the non-citizens in the country? From everything I’ve seen, I think the answer to that is, yes. It’s amazing how much data and information the federal government has on the American population already and individual citizens and non-citizens. And I think the initial estimate was they would have information on citizenship status on at least 90% of the population. And they’ve apparently been working to get that as close to 100% as possible.
Ms Miller: (02:11:23)
Okay. Thank you. I yield back my time.
Chairwoman Maloney: (02:11:26)
Gentlelady yields back. Congressman Sarbanes, you are now recognized.
Mr. Sarbanes: (02:11:31)
Thank you very much, Madam Chair. Can you hear me?
Chairwoman Maloney: (02:11:34)
Yes we can.
Mr. Sarbanes: (02:11:37)
Appreciate the hearing. Obviously, a number of us, as you can tell, are alarmed at this prospect of shortening the time for the non-response follow up from the end of October to the end of September and also the collection and transmission of the apportionment data, where we and the Trump administration in its original posture felt that extending those deadlines to the end of April and the end of July respectively made a lot more sense.
Mr. Sarbanes: (02:12:10)
So here’s the question and help me understand this, Mr. Thompson. And I may go to Mr. Mihm as well, but what is the downside of keeping the collection or the response effort underway through the end of October and what is the downside or risks associated with the extension in terms of the apportionment data being collected and analyzed and transmitted at those later dates in 2021? Because I haven’t heard anybody appoint to a significant risk or downside or negative to allowing for the non-response followup to continue through the end of October or to allow the apportionment data to be transmitted at those later dates. So, Mr. Thompson, do you see any significant negatives associated with that?
Mr. Thompson: (02:13:16)
Thank you, Congressman. No, I don’t see any negatives that in fact is the initial plan that the Census Bureau career staff had developed in the face of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. So it would be implementing their plan.
Mr. Sarbanes: (02:13:31)
And Mr. Mihm, Do you see any significant negatives with extending that?
Mr. Mihm: (02:13:44)
I agree, Congressman, I agree with the Mr. Thompson, that, that had been the Bureau’s plan to extend the dates those four months. And it had been behind the request for a legislative relief on that. The only, as it were downside, or at least something that we’ve urged the Bureau to make sure that they consider and do evaluations on is the notion of recall bias. Obviously the farther you get away from census day, the problems of memory and recollection about where people may have been residing and who else was in the household become an issue for them.
Mr. Mihm: (02:14:16)
We just believe that that ought to be looked into, but nevertheless as Mr. Thompson said, the Bureau’s plan was to have that additional time in order and that was on balance, the appropriate way to go, that they had concluded.
Mr. Sarbanes: (02:14:31)
Well, in the original timeline in terms of collecting the data, having the questionnaires responded to what the end of October. So it was certainly within the window of what was considered needed from an accuracy standpoint. The move has been the end of October to the end of September, correct?
Mr. Mihm: (02:14:49)
Mr. Thompson: (02:14:50)
Mr. Sarbanes: (02:14:51)
Right. So if you look at the ledger here, on the side of the ledger that says downsides and risks associated with carrying the follow up effort through to the end of October and making sure that the apportionment data goes according to that more extended deadline, under that column, in terms of risks and downsides to that approach, there’s nothing in that column. In the other column, in terms of risks and negatives and challenges posed by trying to move these deadlines up in a significant way, you have a whole litany of things that Mr. Thompson, you have detailed, and Mr. Mihm, you have detailed some of those as well. So it’s not even a close call here in terms of how we should be handling it. And it’s clearly a call that the administration recognized itself when it initially asked for that extension in terms of the apportionment data.
Mr. Sarbanes: (02:15:56)
The other thing I want to point out is sometimes censuses are conducted on the [inaudible 02:16:02] of presidential election, and sometimes they are not. And this, at the moment of a presidential election. And whenever you have that, the day after the election, regardless of whether in this case, the incumbent stays in, or there’s a new president coming in, there’s always a lot of change over of personnel because people who’ve been there for four years decide to move on, et cetera. It strikes me that this was the worst time to be taking time and flexibility away from the Census Bureau in view of that particular dynamic, that you could possibly choose.
Mr. Sarbanes: (02:16:42)
And so for all those reasons, we need to keep that deadline for the response follow up, we need to have that extended through the end of October, and we need the collection of the apportionment data and its transmission to be extended into 2021, which is what we’re trying to do to make sure that the census is conducted in a fair and accurate way. And with that, I yield back my time.
Chairwoman Maloney: (02:17:09)
Thank you for your question. Congressman Comer, you are now recognized.
Mr. Comer: (02:17:16)
Thank you, Madam chair. My questions will be all referred to Mr. Sparkovski. First, I want to thank you for testifying today. You’re an expert on constitutional and voting rights law. And I also want to emphasize a point I made in my opening statement. Career Census Bureau staff have told the committee in transcribed briefings that as of now, the 2020 census can be accurately completed by September 30th. These career staff are moving heaven and earth to ensure an accurate census. I wish that hearing today supported the effort of the hard working women and men at the Census Bureau, but that’s not the purpose of this hearing.
Mr. Comer: (02:17:57)
The hearing today’s a coordinated assault on the 2020 census from the Democrats and their left wing allies who are suing the administration. This weekend, a liberal judge in Northern California issued a temporary injunction preventing the administration from executing a complete census count by September 30th. Are you familiar with this injunction?
Mr. Spakovsky: (02:18:18)
Mr. Comer: (02:18:19)
Do you believe, given the current circumstances, a nationwide injunction is merited
Mr. Spakovsky: (02:18:26)
I do not. In fact I think the judge was going outside of her very limited jurisdiction in her particular district in California.
Mr. Comer: (02:18:35)
The current statute has strict deadlines for delivering an apportionment count to the president and redistributing files to the states, to my knowledge, Congress has not enacted and the president has not signed any legislation changing these deadlines, what legal basis is there to challenge the current statute when Congress has not acted to change the statutory deadline?
Mr. Spakovsky: (02:18:59)
Well, I don’t think there is one. In fact, that’s why I think this judge is acting in a way that’s not justified by the facts or the law that she has in front of her.
Mr. Comer: (02:19:11)
Well, if this judge issues a longer term injunction, it will mean the Census Bureau and the judge himself will be violating the law. Is that correct?
Mr. Spakovsky: (02:19:19)
Mr. Comer: (02:19:21)
We’ve seen a lot of legal interest in the 2020 census, obviously, including a lawsuit against adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census. This case was ultimately decided last year by the Supreme Court. What did the Supreme Court recently rule with regard to the constitutionality of a citizenship question being asked on a questionnaire?
Mr. Spakovsky: (02:19:43)
Look, that decision was misinterpreted and I think, misreported by a lot of media. It’s very important to understand that Supreme Court said that it is both constitutional to have a citizenship question on the census and that the executive branch has the statutory authority to ask a citizenship question. The only thing that they decided at the end was that they had not gone through the correct procedures under the Administrative Procedure Act to explain why they were adding a citizenship question. I think that was an error, but the point is, constitutionally and statutorily, you can have a citizenship question on the census. In fact, we’ve had one on there starting at 1820.
Mr. Comer: (02:20:28)
Well, I think that’s a very important point and that’s counter to what several of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have been saying throughout these census hearings. So I appreciate you bringing that out. Do you believe the Supreme Court ruling on administrative process grounds is problematic?
Mr. Spakovsky: (02:20:48)
Yeah. I think it’s very problematic. In fact, I agree with the dissent written by Clarence Thomas in which he said that once the majority determined it was both constitutional and statutorily legal, that should have been the end of the analysis. And I think he’s exactly right about that.
Mr. Comer: (02:21:08)
My last question. Is it fair to say this decision opens new avenues for legal challenges based on procedural grounds?
Mr. Spakovsky: (02:21:17)
Yeah, I think it does. And I think it’s a misinterpretation of the APA and I might just quickly point out, look the American community survey, which the Census Bureau sends out every year, it currently has a citizenship question on it.
Mr. Comer: (02:21:32)
Exactly. And I said my last question, I’m just going to throw in one more, because there have been so many different statements between the Republicans and Democrats on this congressional reapportionment issue, which the president’s for and I personally support. But sir, is it a fair statement to say that if persons here illegally are counted towards congressional apportionment, then states that have promoted sanctuary cities would be rewarded with more congressional representation?
Mr. Spakovsky: (02:22:04)
Yes. That is clearly the case.
Mr. Comer: (02:22:06)
Well, that’s a big difference in ideology between the Republicans on this committee and the Democrats on this committee, but regardless, I appreciate your testimony here today. And thank you again for being here. With that, Madam Chair, I yield back the remainder of my time.
Chairwoman Maloney: (02:22:23)
Thank you. The gentleman yields back. Congresswoman Speier, you are now recognized. Jackie Speier.
Ms. Speier: (02:22:31)
Jackie Speier, but thank you, Madam Chair. I think that old adage about not changing the spots on a leopard really applies here. What we have seen by President Trump from his January 26 recognition that the COVID-19 pandemic was serious and troublesome, but refused to make that apparent to the American people, to his efforts to undermine the FDA, the CDC and the intelligence community, and to bend their decision making to his interests, has taken many persons who are in professional positions within our various departments, and either they become whistle blowers or they bend to the president’s wishes. So the fact that on August 3rd, a memo to Secretary Ross is provided that says, “The accuracy and completion of the census will be jeopardized if we speed up this process,” should give all of us pause.
Ms. Speier: (02:23:43)
But my colleagues on the Republican side feel compelled not to focus on what the issue of the day is, but on apportionment and reapportionment. The data processing has taken anywhere from 140 to 185 days. This administration now is going to reduce it to 92 days. So Mr. Mihm, in your analysis by the GAO, is cutting 60 days out of data processing schedule going to increase the risk of the inaccuracy and incompleteness of the census?
Mr. Mihm: (02:24:24)
The short answer, ma’am, is yes. One of the things to keep in mind, and we had a bit of a discussion or Mr. Thompson talked about this earlier, was the importance of the subject matter review process within the Census Bureau. And this is where we’re experts that know the data within individual states, after there’s been a data run, have an opportunity to step back and see if there’s any anomalies. Do the sex ratios look bad? Is there a population change that can’t be explained by other ways? To just give an indication of this. There were 46 reruns that they had to do of state data out of 52 states and territories in 2010. And so this is not something that’s just as an aside that has to take place at that.
Mr. Mihm: (02:25:06)
They also use this opportunity to clean up the data. One of the things that they do is they look for where there are multiple responses from the same household. That’s an important part of their data strategy or making sure that they get complete and accurate data. In 2010, they had 14 million housing units, about 10% of the housing units, that had to be de-duplicated. And so these aren’t just numbers along the margin that are taking place. These are very important steps that the Bureau goes through.
Mr. Mihm: (02:25:34)
One final thing is that much of the data processing and the cleanup there at the end has to be sequential in nature. It’s not something that they, some of it can be done at the same time, but a lot of it has to be done sequential that they can’t move to a second step until they’ve done the first. And so, all of this puts, in this time compression, does increase the risk.
Ms. Speier: (02:25:54)
So that being the case, what’s the motivation in your estimation?
Mr. Mihm: (02:26:02)
Well, ma’am, I really can’t speak to the motivation. We look at the operational decisions or implications of decisions that are being made and motivations for how and why things get done is a little bit beyond my remit.
Ms. Speier: (02:26:17)
I understand that, but I’m still trying to understand why we want the census data that is relied on for the next 10 years to be incomplete or inaccurate. And how does that help us, any of us Republicans or Democrats alike? Is there a basis on which lawsuits will then be brought when it becomes apparent that it is incomplete and inaccurate?
Mr. Mihm: (02:26:46)
Well, what I can certainly speak to is that, one of the risks in this data processing at the end is that there’s, as I’ve been discussing, there’s issues that are kind of the known unknowns in which they find something and they say, “Hey, this is an anomaly. We need to make sure that we can explain it.” And they spend the time trying to do the root cause. So one set of risks is will they have that time to do that?
Mr. Mihm: (02:27:09)
The second is, could there be things that would show up that they will not know in real time, that they will not have an opportunity to adjust on or rather make a determination and try and find out what the story is, that we won’t find out until we do what’s called the post enumeration survey, which is kind of the big check on the accuracy of the data, but that doesn’t come out until 2022. And so there are two kind of buckets of concerns that we have there with the constricted processing time.
Ms. Speier: (02:27:37)
So lawsuits being filed subsequently could very well be in the offing. Is that correct?
Mr. Mihm: (02:27:44)
That’s not something that I can speak to. I know in the past there have been challenges both politically and through the courts to the accuracy and completeness of census data.
Ms. Speier: (02:27:55)
All right. Madam Chair, I can’t tell how much time I have left. Has my time expired?
Chairwoman Maloney: (02:28:01)
Yes, it has. But you have a very important line of questioning. The gentlelady yields back, her time has expired. Congressmen Keller, you are now recognized.
Ms. Kelley: (02:28:16)
Keller or Kelley?
Chairwoman Maloney: (02:28:19)
We can hear you.
Chairwoman Maloney: (02:28:20)
Ms. Kelley: (02:28:21)
Oh, Keller. Oh, sorry.
Thank you, Madam Chair. According to Census Bureau, as of September 8th, nearly 90% of housing units have been enumerated nationwide, including 91% in my home state of Pennsylvania. This leaves the rest of the month to collect the remaining data. So I have a question for Mr. Sparkovski, can you explain what is meant by housing unit? What do the figures I just mentioned indicate about how much of the country has been counted?
Mr. Spakovsky: (02:29:02)
By housing unit, I’m assuming they are referring to households, whether they’re living in a single family residence or whether they’re living in an apartment or a condominium or something like that.
Okay. So a housing unit, could one housing unit be a building that might have a hundred apartments in it?
Mr. Spakovsky: (02:29:31)
Well, I assume so, but all of the figures I’ve seen on where the Census Bureau is saying how much they’ve completed, they talk about households. So in one housing unit, if it’s an apartment, there might be a hundred households.
So, as far as housing units, do we know how much of the country has been counted as far as individuals? What percentage? 90% housing units, but what does that refer to as far as the population being counted?
Mr. Spakovsky: (02:30:08)
All the figures I’ve seen refer to the number of households that have been counted.
Okay. Are there any communities that we may have missed?
Mr. Spakovsky: (02:30:28)
Well, look, that’s a problem that the census faces in every single census is getting to people who are in more remote areas of the country, particularly out West. And that’s something that they elaborately planned for. So it’s not as if that’s a new problem or a new phenomena. It’s something that the Census Bureau takes into effect. The professionals there, the professionals who’ve done this for a long time. That’s something they take into account when they are planning, how they’re going to carry out the census.
Okay. We’ve heard a lot about [inaudible 02:31:17] on apportionment at today’s hearing and in past hearings, will this change with the people [inaudible 02:31:26] will be counted in the census?
Mr. Spakovsky: (02:31:28)
No. There seems to be some confusion about that. It’s not that the president-
Does it change which people are going to be counted in the census?
Mr. Spakovsky: (02:31:35)
No, it’s not. It’s just that the population that’s used for apportionment is not necessarily the same total population counted by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Okay. Since the Bureau is on track to complete its field operations on time and produce an accurate count, I’d like to sort of switch gears. I want to talk to Mr. Mihm. The area I represent in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania would by census standards, be considered hard to count. I understand that technology has played a big part in the 2020 census, even in rural communities like mine. Can you speak to how enumerators are using technology in those places? And if there have been any takeaways that might inform our data collection going forward with 2020 census operations.
Mr. Mihm: (02:32:29)
Yes, sir. I think that there’s good use of technology in two levels. One is, as part of the original or initial enumeration, that is allowing the internet option this time around. That has certainly been overall, a very positive story that tens of millions of Americans, certainly myself included, use that option in order to respond to the census. And that’s both certainly much cheaper for the Census Bureau in terms of paper and processing. And it also helps ensure more accurate data.
Mr. Mihm: (02:32:58)
At the backend that you’re talking about… I shouldn’t say the backend. That is more in the followup and where they don’t have a response from a household, the census takers, the enumerators are using technology. So they don’t have the old paper registers that they had in the past. This allows both them to collect the data and get it into the system immediately. It also allows tracking or easier tracking of census taker productivity, making sure that they’re actually going to where they should be going. And that is something that the Census Bureau looks at. There’s an old term for falsification called, curb stoning. This is something that, how technology is making sure that that is minimized or in fact, pretty close to eliminated.
Chairwoman Maloney: (02:33:47)
The gentleman’s time has expired. Thank you. Congresswoman Kelly, you are now recognized. Congresswoman Robin Kelly.
Ms. Kelley: (02:33:54)
Thank you, Madam Chair. The wide reaching impact of census data cannot be overstated, but among the most important goals of the census is to accurately determine the apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives. And it is very important to be clear about something here, this is not about political gains or games. It’s not about one party trying to come out on top. Apportionment is a critical process enshrined in the constitution to ensure that every citizen of the United States receives a fair representation in Congress.
Ms. Kelley: (02:34:35)
Last year, the Urban Institute released projections that about 4 million people could be under counted in the 2020 census, and that it could lead to the worst under count of black and Latino populations in the United States since 1990. Mr. Thompson, at the time the projections were released, you were quoted in a 2019 NPR article saying that these horrific estimates “may be a little bit on the conservative side.” Given all that has happened-
Ms. Kelley: (02:35:03)
A little bit on the conservative side. Given all that has happened since those projections were released in 2019, do you think that currently the Census Bureau faces an even higher risk of undercount in Black and Latino communities?
Mr. Thompson: (02:35:16)
Thank you, Congressman. I am of the opinion that there is a great risk that people in all communities, including Black and Latino, will see undercounts that were larger than in previous censuses.
Ms. Kelley: (02:35:34)
Why do you think communities of color are often undercounted in census data?
Mr. Thompson: (02:35:41)
Well, for example, if you look at the current situation, you notice that in the self-responding areas of the United States census tracks, the Black and Latino populations are more represented in those tracks. That is that they are overrepresented in those low-responding census tracks. And so, that means that the work to get a complete count for those communities is going to be harder than in other communities because there’s a much larger non-response followup workload to carry out.
Ms. Kelley: (02:36:21)
And what are the consequences of being undercounted in terms of congressional representation?
Mr. Thompson: (02:36:28)
Well, I could go on for forever about the importance of the census.
Ms. Kelley: (02:36:33)
Then go on forever.
Mr. Thompson: (02:36:35)
But it’s just used for so many important components of our democracy, including representation, allocation of funds, planning for businesses, making surveys fully representative. So undercounts means that you’re underrepresented and you’re not receiving your full share of all those benefits.
Ms. Kelley: (02:36:56)
Right. I know in my area, it’s $1400 per person who’s undercounted every year for 10 years. In addition to the congressional representation, census data is also used to determine local boundaries for things like city councils and school boards. Isn’t that correct?
Mr. Thompson: (02:37:15)
Yes, Congresswoman. That is correct.
Ms. Kelley: (02:37:18)
So for populations that are undercounted, they not only stand to lose a congressional seat, but also at the local level as well. Isn’t that correct?
Mr. Thompson: (02:37:30)
That is correct, Congresswoman.
Ms. Kelley: (02:37:33)
So Black and Brown communities have a lot to lose if all of us are not counted. I just want to thank you, Mr. Thompson. The stakes could not be higher. Our founders knew how important it was for congressional representation to be fairly divided based on an accurate census. We should not risk depriving citizens of the representation guaranteed to them by the constitution. We should give the Census Bureau the time it needs to conduct a complete and accurate census. With that, I yield back.
Thank you, Miss Kelly. I’m filling in for Chair Maloney. I greatly appreciate everybody here. I recognize myself for five minutes from questions. One of the things that we know is that this count is extremely crucial, yet four in 10 households have yet to be counted. A move like this will likely lead to an undercount among historically hard-to-count populations, acute communities of color, immigrants, and those in urban areas.
That means that communities like the ones I represent are going to be undercounted. My congressional district so far is only at 50% self-response rate and enumeration rate combined. So I’m extremely concerned. The people in my district are also completely concerned. Despite former Census Bureau directors warning us that an earlier deadline would “result in a serious and complete enumeration of many areas across the country”, the Trump administration has dramatically accelerated the census for political gains.
On August 27th and 28th, this committee interviewed three top officials from the Census Bureau. The first official stated, “More time is always a good thing.” The second official stated, ” Anytime you have more time, it reduces risk, and that will have reduced our risk.” The third official said, “Absolutely,” when he was asked whether he agreed with the first two officials. So my question is, Mr. Thompson, do you agree with these officials?
Mr. Thompson: (02:39:51)
Well, I know those officials pretty well and I agree with those statements.
Why? Why is that?
Mr. Thompson: (02:40:01)
Well, right now, there simply isn’t enough time, in my opinion, to complete a really good and accurate data collection. There’s not enough time to process the data after the data collection ends and do it in an accurate way. So I think those raised very, very serious concerns, and I detailed a lot of those in my testimony.
In a sworn declaration filed with a federal court on September 4th, Mr. [Vernate 02:40:39], the associate director of the 2020 census, stated that if a federal court were to stop the Census Bureau from proceeding with its new rushed schedule, “We would evaluate all the changes we’ve made for the replan schedule and determine which to reverse or modify. We would go through each and every aspect of the remaining operations and determine how best to use the remaining time to maximize the accuracy and completeness of its results.”
In other words, the Census Bureau stands ready to uncrash its schedule. If Congress gives it the time it needs, it can decide how to do that. Mr. Thompson, do you have confidence that the Census Bureau has the ability to make use of the statutory extension from Congress, if passed?
Mr. Thompson: (02:41:25)
I certainly think the Census Bureau could make great use of it.
In the past three censuses, none of which took place during a pandemic, the Bureau has needed five months to accurately and completely deliver apportionment and redistricting data. Is that correct?
Mr. Thompson: (02:41:47)
At least five months.
At least five months. What is the preferred amount of time?
Mr. Thompson: (02:41:56)
Well, for this census, I think the preferred amount of time is the time that the Census Bureau developed when it was on the basis of its extensive planning and research, which in this case would be five months.
Yeah. Mr. Thompson, so why is it important for the Bureau to have adequate amount of time to process the data?
Mr. Thompson: (02:42:21)
Well, if you don’t have adequate amount of time, the problem is you can make computer errors that are not detected immediately, and they would probably carry through into the apportionment and the redistricting. So there’s just a high risk of computer errors.
Yeah. I greatly appreciate your answers. One of the things that we heard from my colleagues on the other side of the aisle is that they’re almost convoluting two different arguments. One, that undocumented immigrants should not be counted. Two, that we shouldn’t extend the deadline to make sure that everybody is accurately counted.
If we extend the deadline to count everybody, and then the Republicans and this president are trying to back out undocumented immigrants, I don’t understand why they wouldn’t extend the deadline, unless they don’t want US citizens who are in minority communities and urban areas not to be counted as well.
So I have suspicions, the motivations of this administration. When they tried to add the citizenship question was rejected by the Supreme court. Judge Roberts just rejected it flatly as something that was contrived. So with that, I urge my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to support the extension of the deadlines for the Census Bureau.
Thank you and I yield my own time. Now I would like to recognize Miss Tlaib for five minutes. Let’s see here. I’d like to recognize Miss Porter for five minutes. Miss Porter?
Miss Porter: (02:44:52)
Yes. Hello. How are you? I apologize.
Don’t worry about it. Technical difficulties on all sides. Miss Porter, you’re recognized for five minutes for your questioning.
Miss Porter: (02:45:01)
Thank you. Mr. Mihm, you said in your August report that it would be especially difficult for the Census Bureau to get accurate counts of college students, if census operations were not extended to make up for time lost. I was a professor at the University of California, Irvine before being elected to Congress. My district is home to a university with more than 35,000 students, as well as a number of smaller colleges. Mr. Mihm, when are college students normally counted?
Mr. Mihm: (02:45:31)
Ma’am, college students are normally counted at their university, either in their dorm or if they’re living off-campus. That is under census rules for usual residents.
Miss Porter: (02:45:41)
Oh, I’m sorry. What time of year? What time of year?
Mr. Mihm: (02:45:44)
I’m sorry, ma’am? Oh, time of year?
Miss Porter: (02:45:48)
What time of year do we usually count them?
Mr. Mihm: (02:45:50)
At or around census day.
Miss Porter: (02:45:51)
Mr. Mihm: (02:45:52)
So this time it would have been in the spring.
Miss Porter: (02:45:56)
So around April?
Mr. Mihm: (02:45:57)
Miss Porter: (02:45:57)
Exactly. So around April, under a normal year, seniors will graduate in the spring. In your report, you noted that when the campuses shut down, many students went home and could not be contacted. So my question is if we’re missing a bunch of graduating seniors, it could be as much of a quarter of students in the school, like 5,000, 6,000, 7,000 students in many places. Is that correct, if we fail to count college seniors?
Mr. Mihm: (02:46:22)
Yes, ma’am. The risk is actually on two sides, and we won’t actually know until later.
Miss Porter: (02:46:26)
[crosstalk 02:46:26] call me.
Mr. Mihm: (02:46:27)
I’m sorry, ma’am? Yeah, the risk is on two sides. We could end up missing them or we could end up having them be double-counted both at the university and if they’re back home. The point is that we will not know that until much later.
Miss Porter: (02:46:44)
You said in your report that the Census Bureau has requested administrative data from around 1400 colleges in larger towns and cities. When you published that report on August 27th, only 51% of colleges have agreed to share that information. Where is that number now?
Mr. Mihm: (02:47:03)
I don’t have an update on that, ma’am, but I will check and get that back to your office as soon as I can get the better number.
Miss Porter: (02:47:10)
Right. But as of a couple of weeks ago, we were at half of all colleges being counted, which is not a good place to be. I want to turn to Mr. Johnson now and ask if there’s not an extension of the census, what does that mean for what the census calls hard-to-count areas?
Mr. Thompson: (02:47:30)
Thank you, Congressman. So those are going to be the areas that would be affected the most by not allowing the Census Bureau the proper time that they requested initially to complete their work. Those communities have lower response rates and, therefore, they have greater amount of work to do, a non-response followup. That’s where the biggest challenges are to gain a complete and accurate count. So those communities would be affected the most.
Miss Porter: (02:48:07)
And I think some people might be really surprised to learn about what are hard-to-count areas. We often think of them as rural areas, places without broadband access, places where there might be language barriers. I want to show people an example of … This is a picture of Big Sur, California. Mr. Johnson, is Big Sur hard to count?
Mr. Thompson: (02:48:34)
Excuse me, is Big Sur hard to count?
Miss Porter: (02:48:37)
Mr. Thompson: (02:48:39)
Well, there are certain rural areas in Big Sur that are very hard to get to. I happened to have actually been there for a while. So, yes, there are portions of it that would be hard to count.
Miss Porter: (02:48:54)
So the self-response rate in this beautiful area was 35% last census and is down by more than 10 points so far this cycle. This part of California is almost 100% Spanish-speaking and broadband is really limited. That’s two big factors to enumeration. One consequence of less funding, of course, about a lack of a count, is less federal funding for this amazing bridge that goes over Highway 1.
Miss Porter: (02:49:22)
I also wanted to ask you about other hard to … Does this look like a hard-to- count area to you? This is San Clemente, California, in the southern part of Orange County. Is this hard to count?
Mr. Thompson: (02:49:36)
Congresswoman, I would really have to look. There are areas in Southern California that certainly show up on the Bureau’s hard-to-count indicator. I would have to study that a little bit more to answer that.
Miss Porter: (02:49:52)
[crosstalk 02:49:52] parts of San Clemente, just north of there, is 65% renters, 20% immigrants. That helps explain why the response rate is below 60%. If they don’t get counted, the local school district loses education. I want to share one more hard-to-count area. This is the University of California, Irvine. Is this a hard-to-count area?
Mr. Thompson: (02:50:13)
I would think that any area right now with a large college student population is going to face some challenges in getting an accurate enumeration, simply because of all the displacement of college students. I shouldn’t say simply. I should say that’s one component of why it’s going to be difficult.
Miss Porter: (02:50:38)
Would extra time help in these hard-to-count areas with giving us an accurate count?
Mr. Thompson: (02:50:44)
It certainly would.
Miss Porter: (02:50:47)
Thank you very much. With that, I yield back.
Thank you, Member Porter. Now I recognize Representative Plaskett for five minutes.
Miss Plaskett: (02:51:05)
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I hope that I can be heard at this time. Am I available? Yes, thank you. So I have heard a lot of discussion that’s been going on about the Bureau’s plan and operations related to rural areas and to Native American tribes. James Tucker, Vice Chair of the US Census National Advisory Committee, has said, “We’re probably looking at historic undercount. It’s not going to be enough time.”
Miss Plaskett: (02:51:42)
Senior Census Bureau officials admitted that they are struggling to enumerate these areas. For example, Tim Olson, the Associate Director for Field Operations, stated, “In Indian Country, particularly Montana, Arizona, New Mexico, those are the three primary states where we have challenges, where specific tribal governments on their lands, on their reservations have shut down to the public to come into their sovereign nation to prevent a horrible outcome of coronavirus.”
Miss Plaskett: (02:52:15)
My first question is to you, Governor Lewis, you have given some excellent testimony to us. Tribal nations are considered hard to count even during a census that is not taking place during a pandemic. Can you explain why that is?
Governor Lewis: (02:52:37)
Excuse me. Yes. First of all, we [inaudible 02:52:43] have an internet … I would say, broadband provider, either a discussion about technology and the internet option. That just isn’t the case, at least from the Gila River Indian Community, where we are still trying to distribute broadband infrastructure. This was even brought to an even more critical point during this pandemic as well. I know other tribes-
Miss Plaskett: (02:53:11)
Excuse me, Governor. Do you know how many families are without … What’s the percentage of families without broadband, or even spotty broadband, in your area?
Governor Lewis: (02:53:22)
Well, we have about 2200 households on the community, and we’ve identified hundreds of households that just don’t have access to broadband because of their location. We are just south of Phoenix, but we are in a very remote area in the Sonoran Desert, beautiful Sonoran Desert. But, nonetheless, we’ve … So we’ve identified not only no connectivity-
Miss Plaskett: (02:53:51)
Yes, [crosstalk 02:53:52].
Governor Lewis: (02:53:51)
… but also just the infrastructure available for broadband. And so, that has really hampered our areas as well. Also, because this goes to the reality, right now, on Indian reservations, has to do with street addresses versus PO boxes. We have a number that are post office boxes that our community members have versus street addresses.
Governor Lewis: (02:54:15)
It’s really been a barrier for those enumerators going, because you have to have that geographic locator number. If you don’t have a street address, then it’s hard. That has also contributed in the past to the vast undercounting of Native Americans.
Governor Lewis: (02:54:38)
Even early on in this latest 2020 census, some of my community members, some of the enumerators have come and they’ve just put the information on their fences, and then they’d blown away. Put them just near their house. And so, those are the realities. We lose a vast number of those to these logistical barriers, which is a reality.
Miss Plaskett: (02:55:16)
Okay. Listen, I understand. In the Virgin Islands, we are just now still even giving street names to areas where people live. So people have post office boxes, there are streets that are not named. Unfortunate for those of us in the smaller territories, we are not even able to do the census online. There is no online drop box for the Virgin Islands or Guam or American Samoa, an area that already has very few, or has been … The inequities that we have in federal funding, people are aware of, is going to be even greater.
Miss Plaskett: (02:55:54)
My time is about to run out, and I wanted to ask Mr. Thompson why are areas that are rural hard to count during a normal census? What are the increased risk to undercount for rural communities under a truncated schedule? If you answer that question, I’ll yield back, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Thompson: (02:56:17)
Thank you, Congresswoman. So rural areas have unique challenges. You really have to have a deep understanding of the rural area to properly count it. You need to understand what’s a road, what’s a driveway, what’s just a logging trail, for example. You have to be accepted by the rural community. You have to understand how to approach people in the right way. There are a whole lot of unique features that rural areas have that make many of them hard to count.
Miss Plaskett: (02:56:54)
Mr. Thompson: (02:56:56)
And to finish the answer, and it takes time. It just doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a lot of hard work to get the work done because you have to travel over greater distances and the like.
Thank you, Miss Plaskett. Now I recognize Miss Tlaib for five minutes.
Ms. Speier: (02:57:19)
Thank you, Chairman, and thank you all so much for this. I know so many of my colleagues are politicizing this and making this about apportionments and representation in Congress. But as someone that represents the third poorest congressional district in the country, it really is about the $1.5 trillion of federal money that gets distributed and the fact that even during the pandemic, if anything, it exposed the fact that my state saw 40% of the African American population impacted directly by COVID with deaths.
Ms. Speier: (02:57:53)
So the number of people that have died from COVID that are my Black neighbors made up 40%, even though they make up the total population of the state is 15%. Medicaid’s state children’s CHIP program, a number of programs like WIC are so critically important, again, to my district.
Ms. Speier: (02:58:11)
And so, I really want to be honest with this. I always prep for these. Then I listen to many of my colleagues. And I am so taken aback by the fact that we’re getting asked a lot about our undocumented immigrant neighbors. We’re getting asked about apportionment and how congressional districts are made up, but we never actually talk about the people that rely on this data and this information for their services.
Ms. Speier: (02:58:40)
When you think about mobile testing during COVID, they looked at the census. Public health research, they look at the census. Class sizes, they look at the census. So, Mr. Thompson, Director Thompson, I really want to be honest with you here. When they decide to shorten this, doesn’t it impact majority communities of color?
Mr. Thompson: (02:59:03)
Those are some of the communities, Congresswoman, that are certainly affected. As the previous congresswoman noted, rural areas can also be particularly challenging.
Ms. Speier: (02:59:14)
Mr. Thompson: (02:59:14)
That would be for both people of color and people that aren’t of color. So, yes, hard-to-count communities, which contain people of color, are certainly affected by a shortened timeframe.
Ms. Speier: (02:59:26)
Well, what I hear from my colleagues, I just don’t think they want people that look like me counted. And so, governor, you as someone that … Some of the most vulnerable populations that you represent, many of the people you fight for, those are the people that are going to be left out. I mean what I’m hearing from my colleagues is shortening the time, it’s okay, because Brown and Black folks are not going to get counted. Big deal. Indigenous communities are not going to get counted, yeah, [inaudible 00:24: 56]. Do you feel that way? I mean I’m hearing, again, from the [inaudible 03:00:04] coming out of the other side of the aisle.
Governor Lewis: (03:00:08)
Congresswoman, definitely. I think it was discussed earlier. What will be lost are numbers from our underserved communities. Just to go into some of the timeframe, I mean I’m aware that the Census Bureau will generally return to areas with apparent anomalies in the count. However, given the condensed timeframe between the end of September and the end of December, when reporting is due, the Bureau will only have three months for quality control instead of the normal six-month period.
Governor Lewis: (03:00:46)
It was talked about earlier. Commonsense indicates that there isn’t an adequate time for a return to verify counts in undercounted areas to perform quality control and to provide apportionment and redistricting reports in three months. So [crosstalk 00:26:05].
Ms. Speier: (03:01:04)
And, Governor, you’re not even thinking about … But you’re not even thinking about congressional districts. You’re thinking about resources. You’re thinking about how do I make sure that my folks are not left out?
Governor Lewis: (03:01:15)
Ms. Speier: (03:01:15)
Is that correct? Most of my neighbors, most of my residents in my district, Governor, they’re not asking me about that. You know what they’re saying is, “Rashida, we’ve got to make sure we get counted because we know these are thousands of dollars that come to our city that gets … Again, we don’t get access to it when we don’t get counted.”
Governor Lewis: (03:01:32)
I’m thinking about, Congresswoman, my elders worried about their services, their nutrition services. I’m thinking about my children, our children in our community going to these schools, both on the reservation and off the reservation, that will be affected as well from this undercount. For 10 years, we’ll be living with this drastic undercounting.
Ms. Speier: (03:01:59)
Yeah, Miss Stacey, just with you, if you’re still on, as you were being asked a lot of these questions about constitutional law, the first thing I kept thinking about is-
Stacy Carlos: (03:02:09)
Ms. Speier: (03:02:10)
I’m sorry? Is Miss Stacey, Miss Carlos?
Stacy Carlos: (03:02:17)
Ms. Speier: (03:02:18)
Yes, Miss Carlos. I’m so sorry. I wanted to ask, much of the questions that were asked of you earlier in the hearing … It was very alarming, but I want to ask you one very directly. Do you think people that look like you and I are going to … I mean that it’s intentional on the part of the reducing the timeline, that it’s intentional to make sure that people that look like you and I are not counted?
Stacy Carlos: (03:02:45)
I do think it is somewhat intentional. Research has shown that [inaudible 03:02:49] has been impactful in making sure that Black and Brown people are counted, as well as the great pivot that we’ve had to make, an outreach that doesn’t allow trusted messengers to build appropriate relationships with our community members to teach them about the census to make sure the Black and Brown people are counted. So any effort to reduce our time or ability to connect with community members, I think, is intentional.
Ms. Speier: (03:03:14)
Yeah, thank you so much. I will yield.
Thank you, Miss Tlaib. I want to first take a moment to thank our witnesses for testifying today. Without objection, all members will have five legislative days within which to submit [inaudible 03:03:31] questions for the witnesses to the chair, which will be forwarded to the witnesses for their response. I ask our witnesses to please respond as promptly as you are able to. This hearing is now adjourned.