Tester, Bullock, Cooney Push Census Chief to Follow Federal Judge’s Ruling Reinstating October 31st Deadline

Montana risks being undercounted as Trump Administration works to end Census operations before original cutoff date

With funding for schools, roads, hospitals, and an additional seat in Congress hanging in the balance, U.S. Senator Jon Tester, Montana Governor Steve Bullock, and Montana Lieutenant Governor Mike Cooney this week urged U.S. Census Bureau Director Dr. Steven Dillingham to uphold a U.S. District Court ruling ordering the Trump Administration to halt its attempts to end Census operations early.

The ruling extended the deadline to October 31st, 2020—the end date planned at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic—after the President attempted to end operations on September 30th. Tester, Bullock, and Cooney are demanding that Dillingham adhere to the rule of law and observe the ruling to ensure that every Montanan is able to get counted, even though the Trump Administration unsuccessfully appealed the extension in the 9th Circuit Court earlier this week and has appealed the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Census data is the basis for distributing funding to our schools, hospitals, emergency services and 300 critical programs. It is essential that the U.S. Census Bureau continues field operations until the end of October and meets their Constitutional obligation to get an accurate count,” wrote Tester, Bullock, and Cooney. “…After three decades of waiting, the 2020 Census could result in Montana regaining a second representative in Congress, bringing more Montana common sense to Washington. Right now, Montana’s response rate lags behind most of the country.”

Tester, Bullock, and Cooney continued: “As the Trump Administration attempts to derail the 2020 Census in our judicial system, it is critical that the Census Bureau utilizes this last month of field operations to procure an accurate count.”

Tester, Bullock, and Cooney also want to ensure that the Census Bureau is able to meet its statutory deadline requiring them to collect, process, and deliver the 2020 Census to the President by December 31st and are insisting that Dillingham immediately conduct Tribal consultation on Census data processing to ensure accurate and quality results in Indian Country.

Currently, Montana ranks 45th among states in its overall response rate, and delays in operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the decision to end field operations early could result in a severe undercount of the population—particularly in the state’s Native American, minority, and rural communities. If Montana is unable to complete a full and accurate count, the state risks losing access to funding for education, infrastructure, hospitals, and emergency services, in addition to an additional seat in the U.S. Congress.

Read Tester, Bullock, and Cooney’s full letter HERE.