Date: Mon, 14 Dec 1998
From: Census2000 <Census2000(a)ccmc.org>
House Leaders Consider Shifting Census Oversight to Internal
Monitoring Board, House Panel Continue Hearings
House Republican leaders are considering a proposal to
transfer jurisdiction over the census to the House Oversight
Committee, which is responsible for congressional office
budgets, campaign finance reform and contested elections,
and operations of the House generally. The pending change
was reported last week by the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll
Call and confirmed by lawmakers and staff aides who work on
census issues. Under the proposal, the Subcommittee on the
Census of the Government Reform and Oversight Committee,
created a year ago, would be eliminated.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), the senior Democrat on the
census subcommittee, strongly criticized the proposed
shift. "The Leadership felt their control on this issue
slipping away. People are becoming more aware of their ploy
to be sure America's minorities remain anonymous," Rep.
Maloney said in a written statement. She accused Republican
leaders of "burying the Census issue in a paper pushing
committee." Census Subcommittee Chairman Dan Miller (R-FL)
has not yet issued a statement. He and Rep. Maloney were
presiding over a hearing in Miami, FL, last Thursday to
examine local efforts in support of the census.
The House Oversight Committee has six Republican and three
Democratic members; the Government Reform panel's current
party ratio is 24 to 19, plus one Independent. Chaired by
Rep. William M. Thomas (R-CA), the Oversight panel has no
subcommittees. The committee's senior Democrat in the 105th
Congress, Rep. Sam Gejdenson (D-CT), is leaving the panel.
Roll Call also reports that Republican leaders might change
the panel's name back to the Committee on House
Administration, the title used when Democrats were in the
Responsibility for overseeing Census Bureau activities in
the House of Representatives has shifted several times in
recent years. Prior to 1995, the Subcommittee on Census and
Population (later called the Subcommittee on Census,
Statistics, and Postal Personnel) of the Committee on Post
Office and Civil Service had jurisdiction over the Census
Bureau and broader issues related to the Federal statistical
system. The entire committee was eliminated when
Republicans assumed the majority in 1995, and jurisdiction
over the census was handed to the Subcommittee on National
Security, International Affairs, and Criminal Justice of a
revamped Government Reform panel. The national security
subcommittee was chaired by former-Rep. William Zeliff
(R-NH) in the 104th Congress, and then by Rep. J. Dennis
Hastert (R-IL) for the first year of the 105th Congress.
Republican leaders created the new census subcommittee at
the start of 1998 and named Rep. Miller as chairman. It is
unclear whether the House Oversight Committee would monitor
all Census Bureau activities and other data issues or just
the 2000 census. Another subcommittee under the Government
Reform panel has been examining changes to the Federal rules
governing the collection of racial and ethnic data.
Monitoring Board continues hearings: The Census Monitoring
Board will hold a hearing in Sacramento, CA, on December 16,
to discuss the nearly-completed census dress rehearsal.
Sacramento was one of three sites where the Census Bureau
conducted a dry-run of census operations this year. Under a
congressional directive to prepare for two census designs,
the Bureau carried out its original plan in Sacramento,
which included sampling to complete follow-up visits to
unresponsive households and a post-census quality check
survey to measure and correct under-and overcounts. The
Board's hearing will take place from 8:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.,
in the City of Sacramento Council Chambers, 915 "I" Street.
The meeting is open to the public.
Congressional hearings continue: The House Subcommittee on
the Census held a hearing in Miami, FL, last Thursday to
discuss ideas from local officials and community
organizations on how to ensure an accurate census.
According to a December 11 article in The Miami Herald,
witnesses from community-based organizations and Rep. Carrie
Meek (D-FL) told the lawmakers that statistical methods must
be used in addition to the traditional mail and door-to-door
counting. Rep. Maloney praised a letter in support of the
Census Bureau's 2000 plan signed by nearly two-dozen local
groups including the Urban League, the Alliance for Aging,
the Haitian American Foundation, and the Miami-Dade County
Hispanic Advisory Board. Chairman Miller said that more
aggressive promotion could improve the accuracy of the
census and noted that two Federal district courts concluded
this summer that sampling was unlawful.
At a press conference earlier in the week, Miami-Dade County
Mayor Alex Penelas announced the formation of a Complete
Count Committee to oversee and coordinate local activities
in support of the 2000 census. Mayor Penelas said the
area's net undercount of 70,000 in 1990 "shortchanged" the
community. "For a successful Census that includes everyone,
we need to use statistical techniques such as sampling," he
noted. The Mayor was joined by representatives of community
organizations including the NAACP, American Association of
University Women, Organization of Chinese Americans, and
Cuban American National Council, Inc. All of the groups
stressed the importance of census participation in their
communities and voiced support for the use of sampling to
supplement the direct counting effort.
The subcommittee plans additional field hearings to discuss
ideas from local officials and community-based organizations
on improving the census process. At the December 3 - 4
meeting of the 2000 Census Advisory Committee, Chairman
Miller's staff announced sessions in Phoenix, AZ, on January
28, and Los Angeles, CA, several days later. The hearings
were disclosed before word of the subcommittee's possible
elimination became public.
Congressional committee assignments: Republican and
Democratic lawmakers continued to make committee assignments
in anticipation of the start of the 106th Congress on
January 6. Three new Senators will join the Committee on
Governmental Affairs, which oversees the census: Sen. Judd
Gregg (R-NH), who also chairs the appropriations
subcommittee responsible for the Census Bureau's budget, and
freshmen Senators George Voinovich (R-OH) and John Edwards
(D-NC). The new committee members will replace Senators Sam
Brownback (R-KS) and Don Nickles (R-OK) and retiring Sen.
John Glenn (D-OH), the panel's senior Democrat.
The Census 2000 Initiative will publish a roster of all
congressional committees with responsibility for census
funding and oversight after the 106th Congress convenes and
panel assignments are complete.
Questions about the information contained in this News Alert
may be directed to TerriAnn Lowenthal at (202) 484-2270 or,
by e-mail at <terriann2k(a)aol.com>om>. Please direct all
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