May 24, 2021

Van Hollen, Schatz Reintroduce Legislation to Protect Census and Ensure Any Future Proposed Changes Are Studied and Tested

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) joined Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) in reintroducing the Census Improving Data and Enhanced Accuracy (Census IDEA) Act, legislation that would protect the accuracy of future censuses and ensure any proposed changes to the count are properly studied, researched, and tested.

Under the last administration, then-Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross proposed a new addition to the census that would have likely influenced the accuracy of the survey. Without proper studies and testing, last-minute changes or additions, such as the one previously proposed, may discourage people from being counted and may not result in an accurate population count as mandated by the Constitution.

In addition to Van Hollen and Schatz the legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Angus King (I-Maine), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), and Ben Cardin (D-Md.).

The Census IDEA Act would:

  • Prevent last-minute operational changes that have not been properly researched, studied, and tested at least three years prior to the next decennial census date;
  • Ensure that subjects, types of information, and questions that have not been submitted to Congress according to existing law are not included;
  • Require biannual reports on the U.S. Census Bureau’s operation plan, including the status of its research and testing; a report on the agency’s operational plan 5 years prior to the next decennial census; and require that these reports be publicly available on the Bureau’s website;
  • Direct the U.S. Government Accountability Office to determine and report to Congress that the subjects, types of information, and questions on the decennial census have been researched, studied, and tested to the same degree as previous decennial censuses; and
  • Apply the provisions of this bill only to the decennial census, and not the mid-decade census or the American Community Survey. 

The Census IDEA Act is supported by the AASA – The School Superintendents Association, AFL-CIO, American Anthropological Association, American Sociological Association, Arab American Institute, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC, Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, Center for Disability Rights, Center for Law and Social Policy, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights, Coalition on Human Needs, Common Cause, Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd US Provinces, Consortium of Social Science Associations, Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Faith in Action, Government Information Watch, JACL, LatinoJustice, National Action Network, National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, National Asian Pacific American Families Against Substance Abuse, National Association for Bilingual Education, National Education Association, National Equality Action Team, National NeighborWorks Association, National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women, Nielsen, OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates, People For the American Way, PFLAG National, Population Association of America, Public Advocacy for Kids, Unitarian Universalist Association.