Mr. BURTON of Indiana. Mr. Chairman, this amendment is very straightforward. It simply says that ``none of the funds made available in this act may be used to relocate the Office of the Census or employees from the Department of Commerce to the jurisdiction of the Executive Office of the President.''
In February of this year, after Senator JUDD GREGG, a Republican, was nominated by President Obama to be the Secretary of Commerce, the White House announced that control of the Census Bureau and the 2010 census would be removed from the Commerce Department and placed in the hands of the White House staff. Senator Gregg eventually withdrew his name from consideration, in part because of his concerns about taking control of the next census out of the hands of the Commerce Department
and putting it into the hands of political operatives at the White House. Contrary to Democratic claims, there was no historical precedent for placing the census under the control of political operatives on the White House staff.
According to former Census Bureau Director Bruce Chapman, who directed [Page: H6950]
the Census Bureau from 1981 to 1983 under President Reagan, he said, ``The White House and its congressional allies are wrong in asserting that the Census in the past has reported directly to the President through his staff. Directors of the Bureau often brief Presidents and their staffs, but as a former director under President Reagan, I don't know of any cases where the conduct
of the Bureau was directly under the White House supervision; that includes President Clinton in 2000, Bush 41 in 1990, and Carter in 1980.''
The Obama administration has since backtracked and attempted to downplay its role regarding the census. And to his credit, the current Secretary of Commerce, Gary Locke, has expressed his intention to not cede control of the 2010 census to the White House during his confirmation hearings.
The U.S. Constitution, article I, section 2, clause 3, as modified by section 2 of the 14th Amendment, requires a population census every 10 years to serve as the basis for reapportioning seats in the House of Representatives. The Constitution stipulates that the enumeration is to be conducted ``in such manner as they [Congress] shall by law direct.''
Congress, through title 13 of the U.S. Code, has delegated this responsibility to the Secretary of Commerce and, within the Department of Commerce, to the Bureau of the Census.
Let me be very clear on this point: The Constitution stipulates that Congress shall direct how the census is to be conducted and Congress delegated this responsibility to the Bureau of the Census, not the Office of the White House Chief of Staff.
The United States census should remain independent of politics. It should not be directed by political operatives working out of the White House. Such a move is especially troubling considering the census at the time was considering entering into a national partnership with ACORN, an organization ripe with internal corruption and that was responsible for multiple instances of vote fraud in the 2008 presidential election.
Asking an organization like ACORN to help recruit the 1.4 million temporary workers that will go door-to-door is akin to inviting the fox into the henhouse. An estimated $300 billion in Federal funds are distributed annually on the basis of the census data, according to the Census officials. This is very important, because all the people in this country are affected by this money.
The Census Bureau is staffed by experienced and talented professionals who are leaders in the field of statistics. In order to produce a fair, accurate and trustworthy count during the 2010 census, the Census Bureau needs to remain an agency free from political or partisan interference.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. MOLLOHAN. Mr. Chairman, I am sympathetic to the gentleman's interest. But I don't share his concern. There was some talk earlier this year about the White House taking the census or taking a leadership role in the census. We have had public assurances and private assurances that indeed the White House has no such intention.
The fact is that the census was admittedly mishandled during much of the Bush administration, so that toward the latter part of the administration everybody was scrambling to try to repair the damage that had been done. To its credit, the Department of Commerce, the Bureau of Census, conceived of a census in 2010 that would involve as much technology, as much automation, as possible. The vision was to be accurate and to be less expensive.
Unfortunately, the contractor and the Secretary of Commerce actually took a lot of responsibility for the agency, for the contractor not having correct instructions. But in fact the job was not well-performed, whether it was the fault of the Commerce Department and the bureau or whether it was the contractor.
The point is that we have spent a lot of time during the last years of the Bush administration and certainly this year ensuring that we corrected those problems, that we got ahead of those problems, so that we could rely on a credible, accurate census. Those adjustments have been made.
I would just assure the gentleman that there is no inappropriate involvement by the White House. I absolutely embrace his notion that the Congress should be fashioning it, and I think we are doing that with quite a bit of oversight. I know this appropriations subcommittee has been conducting a lot of oversight.
So my remarks in opposition to his amendment I hope are more in the way of assuring him that we are on top of this, and we are looking at it. I know there is a lot of concern. I hear it on radio, I see it on television, certain talk radios are obsessing with regard to ACORN, and I think, personally, in many ways demonizing a whole organization for the conduct of a few.
Yes, ACORN could be a part of the 30,000 partnerships that the Census Bureau will embrace to reach out to communities, many of them hard-to-identify communities. I know the gentleman shares the goal of having as accurate a census count as possible, and I know the gentleman understands that there are hard-to-access communities, and I am sure that the gentleman embraces the idea of partnerships to reach out and give assurances to those communities so we can count as many folks as possible.
There is no money associated with ACORN through those partnerships.
So, again, I oppose the gentleman's amendment, and my comments are such that I oppose it more to reassure him that we are all about an accurate, just census, and we intend to do our part to ensure that.
I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. BURTON of Indiana. Mr. Chairman, I believe Mr. Mollohan is well-intentioned. I believe he is an honorable man. But my concern is that there could be a change of attitude by some in the White House.
I appreciate that the White House has reconsidered and reversed their decision on taking control of the census, but unless we pass this amendment, there is nothing to prevent the White House from reversing itself once more, and that concerns me.
I am encouraged because the Secretary of Commerce, Mr. Locke, has expressed his intention to not cede control of the 2010 census to the White House during his confirmation hearings. But, nevertheless, to make sure that Congress retains its right to control the census and the $300 billion that will be disseminated as a result of the census, I think we need to make it very clear by passing this amendment that it is up to the Congress and not the White House to make this determination.
With that, I will yield back the balance of my time.
The CHAIR. The gentleman from West Virginia has 1 minute remaining.