WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (both D-Md.) joined Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai’i) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) in sending a bipartisan letter calling for the extension of the statutory deadlines for the delivery of apportionment data and redistricting files following the 2020 Census. The Senators urged House and Senate leaders to include the extension in the upcoming COVID-19 relief package.
“Extending the deadlines for the delivery of these files in the next COVID-19 relief package will ensure that the Census Bureau has adequate time to complete a full, fair, and accurate 2020 Census. It will also ensure that both the Congress and the states receive accurate data for apportionment and redistricting,” the Senators wrote in their letter to House and Senate leaders.
Citing a request first made by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham to extend the deadlines for apportionment to April 30 and redistricting to July 31, the Senators underscored the need to give the Census Bureau adequate time to collect and report an accurate count following delays due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition to Senators Van Hollen, Cardin, Schatz, and Murkowski, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai’i), Angus King (I-Maine), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).
The full text of the letter is available here and below.
Dear Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, and Leader McCarthy:
As you work on the next legislative package to address the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we strongly urge you to extend the statutory deadlines for the delivery of apportionment data and redistricting files following the 2020 Census.
On April 13, 2020, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham announced that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they would be adjusting 2020 Census operations. At the same time, they had requested that the Congress extend the statutory deadlines “for apportionment counts to be delivered to the President by April 30, 2021, and redistricting data to be delivered to the states no later than July 31, 2021.” This would have given the Census Bureau adequate time to compile the data sets in light of the delayed enumeration window. However, the administration has reversed course and shortened the enumeration period from October 31 to September 30, 2020, citing these statutory constraints.
Career Census Bureau staff have indicated that they cannot meet the existing statutory deadlines. In May 2020, the census official leading field operations, Tim Olson, stated, “We have passed the point where we could even meet the current legislative requirement of December 31. We can’t do that anymore.” And in July, the associate director of the census, Albert Fontenot, said, “We are past the window of being able to get those counts” by year’s end.
Extending the deadlines for the delivery of these files in the next COVID-19 relief package will ensure that the Census Bureau has adequate time to complete a full, fair, and accurate 2020 Census. It will also ensure that both the Congress and the states receive accurate data for apportionment and redistricting. We thank you for your consideration of our request.