Trump Admin Planning Major Changes To 2020 Census Deadlines Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

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)
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The Trump administration is planning major changes to the timeline for the 2020 census.

Plans for field operations are now on pause until June 1, while the counting period overall has been extended until Oct. 31. That amounts to a three-month extension of what was the planned deadlines.

Additionally, the administration is seeking that Congress postpone by four months the statutory deadlines for when the Census Bureau must produce the data for apportionment and redistricting.

The push to move back the timeline was first revealed by House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), in a readout of a call she and other House members were on Monday with administration officials.

The Census Bureau confirmed the latest changes to 2020 count’s operations and the request for a congressional extension of data production deadlines.

The announcement is the biggest change yet the Census Bureau has undertaken in implementing the decennial count, which is mandated by the Constitution, amid a pandemic.

Already, the field activities were on pause due to the coronavirus outbreak, and local officials in areas particularly hard hit by COVID-19 have been calling for a delay in the counting operations, which were originally scheduled to be completed on July 31.

While the administration could change those deadlines on its own, changing the deadlines by which the data from the 2020 count is produced takes legislative action.

The administration wants to move back the apportionment data deadline from December 31, 2020 to April 30, 2021, and the deadline for the redistricting data from  March 31, 2021, to July 31, 2021.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross also apparently said on Monday’s call that for the states that have their own legal deadlines for redistricting, the administration would be requesting that those be moved back as well, according to Maloney’s readout.

The apportionment data determines how many House members and Electoral College votes each state gets. The redistricting data is what states use to draw the maps for those House members, as well as for their state legislative and local offices.

Read the Census Bureau release describing the latest changes below:

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