The House of Representatives passed the FY15 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriations bill early on the morning of May 30 after two days of deliberations. This bill would provide $974 million for the Census Bureau, $238 million less than the President’s request. The House also passed an amendment that would make responses to the American Community Survey (ACS) voluntary, prohibiting the Census Bureau and Department of Justice from enforcing penalties for not responding to the ACS.
The ACS provides critical data on household incomes and housing conditions. NLIHC and other affordable housing organizations use these data to determine the need for affordable housing at the national, state, and local levels. The ACS helps determine how more than $400 billion in federal and state funds are distributed each year. Research shows that making ACS survey responses voluntary will lead to dramatically lower response rates, significantly higher costs, and a loss of reliable statistics in smaller geographic areas, including rural counties and American Indian reservations.
The Census Bureau’s request for funding included a $212 million ramp-up for the 2020 Census. The House bill essentially eliminates that ramp-up, seriously jeopardizing the ability of the Census Bureau to research and test methods that could save more than $5 billion in the cost of the 2020 census.
The Census Project, a coalition of organizations dedicated to a fair and accurate census, sent a letter to the Senate Committee on Appropriations Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL) urging the Senate to roll back the House cuts and to reject the proposal to make ACS responses voluntary. NLIHC joined 78 other organizations signing this May 30 letter.
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies will mark up its FY15 spending bill on June 3 at 11 am ET. The full Senate Appropriations Committee will mark up the bill, as well as the HUD FY15 spending bill (see related article below), on June 5 at 10:30 am ET.
The Census Project letter is at: http://bit.ly/1iLdMNN