The legislation applies mostly to the decennial census, which the U.S. government undertakes every ten years.
House legislation introduced Monday seeks to protect the 2030 and future decennial census counts from interference and politicization.
Introduced by Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, the Ensuring a Fair and Accurate Census Act takes several steps to mitigate outside or administrative actions regarding the once-a-decade census, which determines political representation and federal funding apportionments totaling $1.5 trillion nationwide.
In a statement announcing the legislation, Maloney referenced former President Donald Trump’s attempt to require respondents to answer a question regarding U.S. citizenship as part of the census, which the Supreme Court eventually ruled against.
“The census is a foundation of American democracy, and it must be protected from partisan interference. The American people saw firsthand how the Trump administration tried to weaponize the Census Bureau to tip the scales in favor of one political party,” Maloney said. “The Ensuring a Fair and Accurate Census Act is a commonsense bill to safeguard the integrity and independence of the Census Bureau.”
The legislation addresses politicization in four ways. First, it guarantees a Census Bureau director can only be removed for cause in cases of “inefficiency, neglect of duty or malfeasance in office.” The bill further ensures any questions added to the decennial census are researched and tested to establish statistical procedures and subsequently verified by Congress’ investigative arm, the Government Accountability Office.
In addition, the bill would codify the existing Census Scientific Advisory Committee and National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic and Other Populations, and it would further establish a 2030 Census Advisory Committee and a Committee on Statistical Quality Standards. Lastly, the bill would provide Congress more transparency into the Census Bureau’s budgetary needs and the operational status of each decennial census.
The Government Accountability Office would be required to conduct a review of census certifications.