Schatz, Murkowski, Sullivan Set To Reintroduce Bill To Extend Key Deadlines For 2020 Census, Ensure Accurate Count
Bipartisan Bill Would Extend Two Deadlines For Census Bureau To Report Data To Account For Delays Caused By Pandemic
WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) announced today that they will reintroduce a bipartisan bill to extend two key statutory deadlines for the 2020 Census. This bill would set the deadline for the apportionment data to April 30, 2021, as well as extend the deadline to deliver redistricting data to the states to September 30, 2021 from March 31, 2021.
These extensions would allow the Census Bureau to continue processing data, after the COVID-19 pandemic caused delays to normal census operations. Without extending these statutory deadlines, there could be a severe undercount of the population, specifically in Native, minority, and rural communities across the country.
“The Census Bureau should take all the time it needs to report its data and make sure every person is counted as mandated by the Constitution,” said Senator Schatz. “Our bill would extend these statutory deadlines and ensure that we get a fair, accurate count.”
“A complete and fair census count is a fundamental cornerstone of our representative democracy. Accurate representation of our nation’s population informs federal funding allotments for infrastructure and services, such as hospitals and schools, while providing important information that guides decisions for the next decade. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the Census Bureau’s abilities to accurately count every person in America. By extending the statutory deadlines we will better ensure that the United States has the most detailed and exact census count possible,” said Senator Murkowski.
“Census data determines federal funding amounts for Alaska’s schools, infrastructure, and other public services, and it is critical to ensure this process is not rushed and that every Alaskan is counted,” said Senator Sullivan. “This bill will extend statutory deadlines to ensure the Census Bureau has more time to process information as it’s received and all Alaskans are accurately counted.”
The Census Bureau has already missed the December 31, 2020 deadline to deliver apportionment data to the U.S. House of Representatives. Internal documents have revealed irregularities with more than a million records from last year’s Census survey. While this is normal and expected, without more time to correct the irregularities the Bureau may not be able to produce an accurate count.
In September, Senators Schatz, Murkowski, and Sullivan first introduced the 2020 Census Deadline Extensions Act following a request from the Commerce Secretary and Census Bureau Director to extend the deadlines for apportionment and redistricting, citing the pandemic delaying census operations.
More than 200 groups have endorsed the legislation, including the AARP, National Association of Counties, U.S. Conference of Mayors, National League of Cities, National Organization of Black County Officials, National Council of Nonprofits, National Congress of American Indians, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, NALEO Educational Fund, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, and MALDEF. A full list of endorsements can be found here.