Wilbur Ross Dodges Appearance At Senate Hearing On Commerce Budget

UNITED STATES - MARCH 14: Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross testifies during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing in Rayburn Building discuss preparations for the 2020 Census and citizenship questions on Thursday March 14, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
March 27, 2019 11:24 a.m.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has declined an invitation to testifying in front of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee about the Trump administration’s budget proposal, the top Democrat on the subcommittee said Wednesday.

Ross’ refusal to testify before the lawmakers comes after he was grilled earlier this month by House lawmakers on his decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Two federals judges have ruled that Ross’ move was illegal and the Supreme Court is now reviewing it.

It was during last year’s round of budget hearings that Ross repeatedly made misleading claims about who was behind the push to add the question, which stands to discourage immigrant participation on the survey.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), the top Democrat on the subcommittee that Ross was invited come before, said that his refusal to testify was a “shame.”

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“I was looking forward to asking him why he misled me during his last appearance, one year ago, when he asserted that the Justice Department was ‘the one who made the request’ to include a controversial citizenship question on the Census,” Leahy said in a statement.  “That was false:  It was Secretary Ross who first pressured a reluctant Justice Department.  And two courts have since declared that the Secretary’s attempt to add the question was illegal.”

Leahy’s press release said that Ross had given no public explanation for declining the investigation.

“The Department continues to work with the Committee on potential witnesses for next week’s hearing on the 2020 budget request,” a Commerce spokesperson said in an email to TPM.



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