House panel threatening subpoenas over census question


WASHINGTON (AP) — The chairman of the House oversight panel threatened Friday to subpoena testimony and documents related to the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 census.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, the panel’s Democratic chairman, said officials at the Commerce Department withheld key documents about the decision despite repeated follow-up requests.

In a letter to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross dated Friday, Cummings said the committee “is seeking to understand the real reason that you added a citizenship question to the 2020 census.”

Ross said the decision to add the citizenship question came in response to a request from the Justice Department, which said the data gained would help it enforce the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

But Cummings said records contradict that claim.

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Critics of the decision say the question would deter immigrants and their families from participating and say an undercount of Latinos and immigrants would jeopardize federal funding and congressional representation in states with a substantial number of both groups. Two federal judges have declared the move to reinstate the question illegal.

Cummings wrote that he will give the department until Monday to agree to provide the documents sought without redactions and to provide witnesses for transcribed interviews.

The Commerce Department replied that the agency has delivered more than 11,000 pages of documents pertaining to the committee’s request. Ross also testified on the issue two weeks ago. A spokeswoman said the department has cooperated in good faith with the committee and will do so in the future.

The committee on Tuesday will also consider authorizing Cummings to issue a subpoena to former White House personnel security director Carl Kline to testify about the security clearance process.

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