I received the following message from Terri Ann Lowenthal, Co-Director of The Census Project, regarding the House of Representatives vote to eliminate the American Community Survey.
Good evening, Census Project colleagues.
I write with some incredible, if not interesting, news.
As some, but perhaps not all, of you know by now, the U.S. House of Representatives voted this evening (232 – 190) to eliminate all funding for the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which as you know replaced the traditional census long form starting with the 2010 Census. The vote essentially was along party lines, with all but 11 Republicans voting in favor and all but four (4) Democrats voting against. The amendment was sponsored by Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL).
Right before the House considered the Webster amendment, it approved, by voice vote, an amendment sponsored by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX) to make response to the ACS voluntary, by prohibiting both the Census Bureau and the Justice Department from using funds to enforce penalties in the Census Act that make survey response mandatory. (The amendment had to be written as a limit on expenditure of funds in order for it to be ruled “in order” on an appropriations bill, FYI.) I suspect the subcommittee chairman, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), did not call for a recorded vote on the Poe amendment because he figured the provision would be stripped in conference.
Now, I cannot imagine that President Obama would sign a Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill that eliminates the ACS. But this is a truly cautionary tale. The outcome demonstrates, in my opinion, that all census/ACS data users must be much more pro-active in conveying their support for this and other surveys to all Members of the House and Senate. What if the White House and Senate majority change hands next year? Conceivably, we could lose an awful lot of data in the future.
The Senate is expected to take up the FY2013 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill next week. But in the meantime, please let us know your thoughts and suggestions for moving forward.
Thanks very much to all of you who did so much to convey your support for the ACS and Census Bureau generally during consideration of this appropriations bill. Now that the House has done something truly irresponsible, perhaps we can engage more stakeholders at the state and local levels, who we know rely on ACS data, to reach out proactively to their members of Congress.
The Census Project