Smith: Census Must Be Independent
Ranking Member Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today joined other House Republicans in urging the Obama Administration to maintain an independent Census Bureau. Recent news reports indicate that the Obama White House is considering an unprecedented shift in management of the 2010 census by requiring the Director of the Census Bureau to report directly to political appointees in the White House.
Ranking Member Smith issued the following statement regarding the need for accountability in the 2010 Census:
"The Constitution requires that the populations of each state be determined every 10 years and that Representatives shall be apportioned to the states according to their numbers. The census plays a central role in determining how many representatives each state receives, where district lines are drawn, and how much federal funding goes to each state. Politicizing or abusing this non-partisan system is nothing short of an attack on democracy.
"The Administration claims that there is precedent for shifting control of the census from the Census Bureau to the White House. So we contacted the Congressional Research Service to check that statement, and they have found no written record that any previous Administration shifted control of census determinations from the Commerce Department to the White House. There simply is no precedent to excuse this blatant power grab by the Obama Administration.
"There will be no accountability if management of the census is moved to the White House. The Administration will simply claim executive privilege and any misuse or politicization of the census will go unexposed.
"Last Congress, the Judiciary Committee held over 70 hearings looking into allegations that the Bush Administration politicized the Justice Department. But the politicization of the Census Bureau is far worse than any allegations regarding the removal of several U.S. Attorneys. It threatens our democracy."
Republican Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Oversight & Government Reform Ranking Member Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) led today's press conference announcing a Census Task Force to conduct oversight of the Obama Administration's decision. Ranking Member Smith will serve as a member of that Task Force to ensure that there is no politicization of the 2010 census.