Census Misses Apportionment Deadline

President Trump's illegal plan to exclude illegal aliens may have been thwarted.

AP (“Census Bureau to miss deadline, jeopardizing Trump plan“):

The Census Bureau will miss a year-end deadline for handing in numbers used for divvying up congressional seats, a delay that could undermine President Donald Trump’s efforts to exclude people in the country illegally from the count if the figures aren’t submitted before President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

The Census Bureau plans to deliver a population count of each state in early 2021, as close to the missed deadline as possible, the statistical agency said in a statement late Wednesday.

“As issues that could affect the accuracy of the data are detected, they are corrected,” the statement said. “The schedule for reporting this data is not static. Projected dates are fluid.”

It will be the first time that the Dec. 31 target date is missed since the deadline was implemented more than four decades ago by Congress.

Internal documents obtained earlier this month by the House Committee on Oversight and Reform show that Census Bureau officials don’t expect the apportionment numbers to be ready until days after Biden is inaugurated on Jan. 20.

Once in office, Biden could rescind Trump’s presidential memorandum directing the Census Bureau to exclude people in the country illegally from numbers used for divvying up congressional seats among the states. An influential GOP adviser had advocated excluding them from the apportionment process in order to favor Republicans and non-Hispanic whites.

“The delay suggests that the census bureau needs more time to ensure the accuracy of census numbers for all states,” said Terri Ann Lowenthal, a former congressional staffer who specializes in census issues.

By law the Commerce Department must present the president by year’s end with population figures from the 2020 census, data then used to determine how many seats in Congress each state gets. The president then is required to submit the numbers to Congress in early January. The Commerce Department oversees the Census Bureau, which conducts the once-a-decade head count of every U.S. resident.

However, there are no penalties for missing the deadline.

Two not mutually exclusive possibilities occur to me.

First, the combination of a global pandemic whose like hasn’t been seen in a century and a series of court battles over the count legitimately delayed the process, making achievement of the deadline more challenging than usual. Indeed, the most recent Supreme Court ruling was only two months ago.

Second, the career professionals at the Census Bureau—the Deep State, if you prefer—intentionally flouted the law precisely to ensure President Biden, not President Trump, would be in office at the critical time. Not because they’re Democratic Party operatives but because they see their duty as completing a count of all residents of the country, as required by the Constitution.

Interestingly, the entire basis of the aforementioned SCOTUS ruling was that the extended count (it was originally scheduled to end July 31 but COVID) needed to stop to meet the 31 December deadline, despite Congress having been on the precipice of granting an extension through the end of April until Trump intervened. Even though the Bureau had already certified that it would not be able to meet the deadline, regardless.

FILED UNDER: US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Gustopher says:

    Third possibility — the Trump administration continues to be their own worst enemy through incompetence. They would get so much more evil done if they were able to do their jobs.

    ReplyReply
    8
  2. Lounsbury says:

    Second, the career professionals at the Census Bureau—the Deep State, if you prefer—intentionally flouted the law precisely to ensure President Biden, not President Trump, would be in office at the critical time. Not because they’re Democratic Party operatives but because they see their duty as completing a count of all residents of the country, as required by the Constitution.

    Flouted the law seems a rather unnecessary hypothesis. In the face of pandemic and natural delays as well as decisional instability, court cases, the reasonable hypothesis is rather more “worked to order” and didn’t kill themselves as it were by extra mile to achieve something of dubious legality.

    That is somewhat different than flouting.

    ReplyReply
    5
  3. MarkedMan says:

    @Lounsbury: Well said

    ReplyReply
    2
  4. Barry says:

    Two things, James:

    First, there are no such numbers. I’ve taken the paper and web-based forms, and helped with the iPhone-based forms. There is no question about legality. They’ve have had to cough up some arbitrary numbers and told people to use them.

    Second, the issue of ‘adjustments’ to the Census (to deal with undercounting) came up several years ago. I don’t remember whether Congress or the Courts slapped it down, but it was slapped down.

    ReplyReply
    1
  5. Arm The Homeless says:

    SCOTUS decided to take a giant dump on the idea of Stare Decisis in side-stepping the worst inclinations of Fat Donny’s in hopes of preserving their ability to hobble the Biden administration that I don’t have any confidence that we won’t be revisiting what “whole persons” means to dippy “””originalists””” for the rest of my life–every ten years.

    ReplyReply
    1
  6. DrDaveT says:

    @Barry:

    Second, the issue of ‘adjustments’ to the Census (to deal with undercounting) came up several years ago. I don’t remember whether Congress or the Courts slapped it down, but it was slapped down.

    Republicans in Congress shot down attempts by the Census Bureau to introduce statistical estimation to improve accuracy. Hard-to-find people disproportionately live in areas that vote Democrat.

    To be fair, though, a common sense reading of the Constitution and existing law does not allow for any procedure more complicated than “counting”. The undercount bias is baked in.

    ReplyReply
  7. David S. says:

    I agree with Gustopher’s read on this one. It just seems like a case of being too incompetent to get everything done on time, and now the clock’s run out. There were a whole bunch of slowdowns to the census process and, as I recall, they were mostly just the usual flailing about by the Trump admin.

    ReplyReply

Speak Your Mind

*