US House data not ready until April, states’ data after July

Political Connection

The numbers used for divvying up U.S. congressional seats among the states won’t be ready until the end of April, a Census Bureau official said Wednesday.

The new goal for finishing data processing for the apportionment numbers is now April 30, said Kathleen Styles, a top bureau official.

The deadline for turning in the apportionment numbers has been a moving target since the pandemic upended the Census Bureau’s once-a-decade head count of every U.S. resident. The numbers were supposed to be turned in at the end of last year, but the Census Bureau requested until the end of April after the virus outbreak caused the bureau to suspend operations.

The deadline switched back to Dec. 31 after President Donald Trump issued a directive to exclude people in the U.S. illegally from the numbers used for divvying up congressional seats.

President Joe Biden rescinded that order on his first day taking office last week. Government attorneys most recently had said that the numbers wouldn’t be ready until early March because the Census Bureau needed to fix data irregularities.

“This April 30 schedule reflects the Census Bureau going back in and producing a realistic schedule,” Styles said.

Irregularities in the census data are nothing new, and other censuses from decades past have had them too, Styles said.

“We have found anomalies. We will likely find more anomalies, and we will fix them as we find them,” Styles said.

The return to the original April 30 extension requested by the Census Bureau comes as the statistical agency has new leadership with the change of administrations last week.

Former Census Bureau director Steven Dillingham resigned last week after being criticized that he was acceding to Trump’s demand to produce citizenship information at the expense of data quality, and the agency’s deputy director was named interim chief.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has been picked by Biden to be Secretary of the Department of Commerce, which oversees the Census Bureau. During a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Raimondo promised to give the bureau more time for crunching the data, and she pledged to take politics out of the census.

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