From: Census2000 <Census2000(a)ccmc.org>
Census 2000 Funding Survives in the House After Heated Debate over
Legislators Must Reconcile House and Senate Bills As New Fiscal Year
Approaches on October 1st
Funding for Census 2000 survived a heated debate in the U.S. House of
Representatives yesterday, as legislators considered a spending bill for
the fiscal year starting October 1, 1999. The Fiscal Year 2000 (FY00)
Commerce, Justice, State, and The Judiciary Appropriations bill (H.R.
2670) includes $4.476 billion for Census 2000 activities, $11.3 million
short of President Clinton's request of $4.512 billion. (Most of the
funding "cut" resulted from shifting money for development of the
American Community Survey from the Census 2000 account to a separate
The measure designates money for Census 2000 as "emergency spending,"
meaning that the funds do not count against the tight caps Congress set
earlier in the year for the Commerce-Justice-State budget account. The
House is expected to complete action today on the $35.8 billion Commerce
spending bill. The committee report explaining provisions of the
appropriations bill is House Report (H. Rept.) 106-283.
Dozens of lawmakers joined in the debate over an amendment offered by
Rep. Tom Coburn (R-OK), to cut $2.8 billion from the census allocation
of $4.476 billion. The Administration originally requested that amount
for census operations next year but later asked for an extra $1.7
billion after the Supreme Court ruled that federal law required a direct
count without sampling methods to calculate the state population totals
for congressional apportionment. The amendment was defeated, 171 to
257, with 95 Republicans and 76 Democrats voting for the Coburn
Rep. Coburn, saying the debate "wasn't even about the census," argued
that calling the census an emergency was "pulling the wool over the
American people's eyes." He charged that in adopting the 1997 balanced
budget law, Congress failed to provide money for the census in 2000.
Rep. Coburn also questioned the cost of the census, calling the $24 per
household cost "abhorrent." "[The high cost] we're inefficient,"
congressman said. Many legislators from both political parties who
spoke in favor of the amendment said the debate was about the
"integrity" of the budget process. "This [debate] is about the
credibility of every Member of this body," said Rep. George Miller
But Rep. David Obey (D-WI), senior Democrat on the appropriations
committee, said the Census Bureau would not have enough money to carry
out the census next year if the Coburn amendment passed. The House
Rules Committee, which sets the rules for debating bills on the House
floor, did not allow Rep. Obey to offer an amendment to lift the
emergency designation from the Census 2000 account. The congressman
said that while he favored removing the emergency tag, it would be far
worse to cut funds needed for the decennial count.
Rep. Dan Miller (R-FL), chairman of the census oversight subcommittee,
also opposed the Coburn amendment, calling it "irresponsible." Rep.
Miller said the Census Bureau needs more money to reduce the
disproportionate undercount of racial minorities, immigrants, the
homeless, and other hard-to-count populations. Rep. Carolyn Maloney
(D-NY), the ranking Democrat on the census subcommittee, noted that the
census would have cost less if congressional Republicans had not
challenged the use of sampling in the original Census 2000 plan in
court. Rep. Tom Sawyer (D-OH), chairman of the census subcommittee
during the 1990 count, said that protracted wrangling over funding for
the census could jeopardize activities, such as buying advertising
slots, that must be done quickly after the new fiscal year starts.
The Administration issued a "statement of policy," setting forth its
views on the committee-approved version of the Commerce spending bill.
While it "appreciates" the overall funding level for Census 2000, the
Administration is concerned that the bill divides the money into
specific operational categories. This earmarking, the statement says,
"would impose unnecessary restrictions" on the Census Bureau's ability
to deal with unexpected circumstances during the census, because the
bill requires the agency to notify Congress 15 days before it intends to
shift money from one activity to another. (See our August 2 News Alert
for a complete description of the operational categories and other
aspects of the committee-approved bill.)
Congress will begin its summer recess period at the end of this week,
returning to work after Labor Day. Legislators must then reconcile
differences between the House and Senate versions of the Commerce
appropriations measure. Each chamber will appoint members to a
"conference committee;" traditionally, "conferees" are members of the
two Appropriations Committees. After the conference committee agrees on
a final spending package, the House and Senate must each approve the
"conference report" before the bill is sent to the President for his
signature or veto.
Correction: In our August 2, 1999, News Alert, we misidentified one of
the witnesses at a July 27 House census subcommittee hearing on the
Census 2000 paid advertising campaign. The witness representing
advertising contractor Young & Rubicam is Ms. Terry Dukes. We apologize
for the mistake.
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. For copies of previous News Alerts and other
information, use our web site www.census2000.org
<http://www.census2000.org>. Please direct all requests to receive News
Alerts, and all changes in address/phone/fax/e-mail, to the Census 2000
Initiative at Census2000(a)ccmc.org or 202/326-8700. Please feel free to
circulate this information to colleagues and other interested