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House Oversight to Vote on Holding Barr, Ross in Contempt Over Census Question

© AFP 2023 / Jewel SamadThe US Capitol building is pictured in Washington, DC
The US Capitol building is pictured in Washington, DC - Sputnik International
On Monday, House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) announced that a contempt vote will be held for Attorney General William Barr and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross over the Trump administration's efforts to include a citizenship question in the 2020 US Census.

In letters addressed to Barr and Ross, Cummings stated that the House Oversight and Reform Committee will schedule a vote to hold the two officials in contempt for not complying with congressional subpoenas. 

US police officer - Sputnik International
Watchdog: Trump Administration 'Poisoning' Census With Question on Citizenship

"Unfortunately, your actions are part of a pattern. The Trump Administration has been engaged in one of the most unprecedented cover-ups since Watergate, extending from the White House to multiple federal agencies and departments of the government and across numerous investigations," Cummings wrote.

"The tactics of this cover-up are now clear. The Administration has been challenging Congress' core authority to conduct oversight under the Constitution, questioning the legislative bases for congressional inquiries, objecting to committee rules and precedents that have been in place for decades under both Republican and Democratic leadership, and making baseless legal arguments to avoid producing documents and testimony," he added, also noting that the contempt votes, which have not yet been scheduled, may be postponed if Barr and Ross provide the requested documents by Thursday, Politico reported.

Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) claimed in a court filing that the citizenship question was added in an effort to redraw congressional districts in such a way as to benefit Republicans.

"The new evidence reveals that Dr. Thomas Hofeller, the longtime Republican redistricting specialist, played a significant role in orchestrating the addition of the citizenship question to the 2020 Decennial Census in order to create a structural electoral advantage for, in his own words, 'Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites,'" the court filing states, citing a 2015 study in which Hofeller alleged that adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census "would clearly be a disadvantage to the Democrats" and "advantageous to Republicans and Non-Hispanic Whites" in redistricting.

In a statement last week, advocacy group Common Cause, which obtained the evidence regarding Hofeller's actions, stated that "the evidence reveals that the plan to add the citizenship question was hatched by the Republicans' chief redistricting mastermind to create an electoral advantage for Republicans and non-Hispanic whites … This contradicts testimony by Administration officials that they wanted to add the question to benefit Latino voters, when in fact the opposite was true."

Last month, the Judiciary Committee voted to hold Barr in contempt of Congress for not providing the House panel with the unredacted Mueller report and evidence.

In January, a US federal court rejected the Trump administration's plans to include a citizenship question in the 2020 US Census, Sputnik previously reported.

The Census Bureau, under the supervision of Ross, included the question in the 2020 census forms. In a 277-page court ruling, US District Judge Jesse Furman said Ross did not follow the proper procedures. 

US Supreme Court Building on Capitol Hill in Washington. (File) - Sputnik International
US Supreme Court Conservatives Appear to Support Citizenship Question on Census

Last year, the ACLU filed a lawsuit in US District Court for the Southern District of New York on behalf of a coalition of immigrant rights groups, claiming that the census question creates a door-to-door federal inquiry of the citizenship status of every member of every household in the United States.

The US Constitution requires a census every 10 years to count every person in the United States, including both citizens and non-citizens. The census is used to allocate funding for various federal programs and to apportion representation in Congress, the Electoral College and within state legislatures.

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