White House Claims No Plans to Takeover Census, But Will ‘Consult’
February 13, 2009 - 5:29 PMThe Obama administration Friday denied that it had any plans to politicize the U.S. census by putting it under White House control after media reports on the issue sparked Republican complaints.
“The census is an entity of the Department of Commerce,” White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters. “The Commerce secretary will oversee that, obviously in consultation with Congress and the White House.”
Gibbs, during Friday’s press briefing did not go into detail regarding how the White House would consult the Census Bureau, which is part of the Department of Commerce.
“Historically, the White House, as well as Congress, have been involved,” Gibbs said. “The census counting will be done by the Census Bureau.”
Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) withdrew his nomination to be President Barack Obama’s Secretary of Commerce, citing his disagreement with administration fiscal policy as well as the possibility that the administration would remove the Census Bureau from the Commerce Department.
The census, done every 10 years, will determine how congressional districts are apportioned, which Republicans fear could be threatening if it is politicized. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told a Republican gathering in Virginia Thursday that the White House would seek to gerrymander districts for Democrats and count illegal immigrants.
Obama never announced any intention to move the Census Bureau into the White House; however, numerous media reports citing unnamed administration officials said that was the goal.
House Republicans on Thursday criticized the White House for considering the move.
“This unprecedented move by the president, I think, would undermine the goal of having a fair and accurate census count,” House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Thursday. “I think it would also open the door to massive amounts of waste and fraud in terms of the $300 billion that’s distributed around our country based on the census data.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said the census move was part of a broader “assault on democracy” he sees coming from the Obama administration.
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