Barack Obama - Census control

Last Updated : Sep 04, 2012

Summary

In February of 2009, the Obama administration required the director of the Census Bureau to report directly to the White House. Some Congressional leaders believed that this was done to ensure that former Senator Judd Gregg did not interfere with the census outcome. Senator Gregg had been placed in charge of the Department of Commerce which is the bureau that normally oversees the census.

Critics of the move asserted that there is no precedent for the Department of Commerce to be circumvented to have the census placed under political operatives at the White House. They noted that a census could be altered to politically favor one party over another. 

 

Origin of the Census

Article 1 Section 2 of the US Constitution mandates that every 10 years a census be performed to determine the population.

 

The results of the census are used to allocate Congressional seats (congressional apportionment), electoral votes, and government program funding.  The census is conducted by the Census Bureau, which falls under the Department of Commerce.

 

Movement of the Census to White House Authority

On February 5, 2009, CQ Politics reported the following:

 

Congressional and Media Response

Immediately, speculation was made that this was done to alleviate concerns voiced by the Congressional Black Caucus, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, and other groups who expressed displeasure with Obama's nominee for Commerce secretary, Republican Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire.  Congressional Black Caucus Chairman Barbara Lee, D-Calif., said in a statement that Senator Greggs previous actions were troubling. A National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials spokesman made a similar statement to Politico.

 

 

House Minority Leader John Boehner said the following:

 

Further questions at Press Conferences

At a press conference on February 6, 2009, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs had the following exchange with reporters:

 

On February 13, 2009, Press Secretary Giibbs had the following exchange with reporters:

When asked if these concerns were the motivation for the change, a White House Spokesman stated the following.

 

Prior Census Bureau Official Response 

Bruce Chapman, director of the U.S. Census Bureau under President Reagan, explains the Republican objection and why the census is so important in his Discovery blog:

 

In response to the White House statement concerning the precedent that the director of the census works closely with the White House, Director Chapman added:

 

References

[1] Website: GovernmentExecutive.com Article: Obama shifts Census oversight, triggering angry protest by Republicans Author: Carrie Dann Accessed on: 04/06/2010

[2] Website: World Net Daily Article: White House grabs 2010 census power Author: Drew Zahn Accessed on: 04/06/2010

[3] Website: White House Press Release Article: PRESS BRIEFING BY PRESS SECRETARY ROBERT GIBBS Author: NA Accessed on: 04/06/2010

[4] Website: White House Press Release Article: PRESS BRIEFING BY PRESS SECRETARY ROBERT GIBBS Author: NA Accessed on: 04/06/2010

[5] Website: Washington Post Article: The Sleuth - Get Ready For the U.S. Census Fight, Chicago-style Author: Mary Ann Akers Accessed on: 04/06/2010

[6] Website: CQ Politics Article: Administration Plans to Bypass Commerce and Gregg on 2010 Census Author: Jonathan Allen Accessed on: 04/06/2010

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