House Republicans will hold a news conference today to announce the formation of a census task force as they continue to urge President Obama to reconsider his plans to have the director of the Census Bureau report to senior White House staffers.
They asserted in a letter to the president yesterday that the proposal is an “unprecedented politicization of the Census” that would “open the door to massive waste and abuse in the expenditure of taxpayer funds, billions of which are distributed on the basis of Census data.” (See the full letter after the jump.)
The administration announced its decision last week to have the Census director report to the commerce secretary and White House senior staffers as minority groups raised concerns about Obama’s nomination of Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) to serve as commerce secretary.
“As they have in the past, White House senior management will work closely with the Census Director given the number of decisions that will need to reach the President’s desk,” White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said in a written statement. “This administration has not proposed removing the Census from the Department of Commerce and the same Congressional committees that had oversight during the previous administration will retain that authority.”
Republicans disagree with the White House’s assertion that previous Census directors have worked closely with White House staffers, writing that “There is no legitimate historical precedent for placing the nonpartisan, apolitical Census Bureau under the control of political operatives on the White House staff.”
But in an e-mail, Kenneth Prewitt, who served as Census director from 1998 to 2001, said he worked with White House staff during the 2000 national headcount.