Under The Gun Over Census, Wilbur Ross Stiffs Congressional Hearing

on May 14, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross turned down an invitation to appear in front a House Appropriations subcommittee Wednesday — the second time in recent days Ross has dodged an opportunity to testify on his department’s budget.

Ross is under scrutiny for his move to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census — a move that the Supreme Court will review later this month.

In a letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science, Ross claimed his appearance would “unfortunately distract from the Department’s important business before the subcommittee.”

Ross pointed to the subcommittee’s refusal to host other Department officials to testify about the budget in his absence.

Ross last week, without public explanation, also turned down an invitation to testify in front of a Senate Appropriations subcommittee about the Trump administration’s budget proposal.

The top Democrat on that committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) expressed frustration that he would not be able to grill Ross on the inclusion of the citizenship question on the census.

At last year’s round of appropriations hearings on Commerce’s budget, Ross falsely said the Department of Justice “initiated” the request to add the question for voting rights enforcement purposes. The litigation over the move has revealed that Ross himself aggressively pushed for the question, prompting his aides to ask the Justice Department to submit its request.

Ross was grilled about the move again at a House Oversight hearing last month. His Department has failed to produce for that committee certain documents it’s seeking related to the question, prompting the committee to authorize subpoenas on Tuesday.

Read Ross’ letter to the House Appropriations subcommittee below:

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