Tester Statement on Supreme Court Ruling Undermining Census Count in Montana
U.S. Senator Jon Tester today released the following statement after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Trump Administration could end the 2020 Census count before the October 31 deadline, potentially resulting in an undercount in Montana:
“This is a disappointing act of judicial activism from the Supreme Court, which will allow this Administration to undermine the Census and disadvantage Montanans and rural America for the next decade. Every Montanan needs to be counted because funding for our schools, hospitals, emergency services—even a second congressional seat—hangs in the balance. Congress must step in and prevent this abuse of executive power by passing my bipartisan legislation to give the Census Bureau more time to do its job, and I urge Senator McConnell to stop blocking this bill and work with me to get it done.”
Senator Tester’s bipartisan 2020 Census Extension Act would extend two key statutory deadlines for the 2020 Census and require the Census Bureau to continue field operations through October 31, 2020.
Additionally, last week Senator Tester, Montana Governor Steve Bullock, and Montana Lieutenant Governor Mike Cooney urged U.S. Census Bureau Director Dr. Steven Dillingham to follow a U.S. District Court ruling ordering the Trump Administration to halt its attempts to end Census operations early. They also insisted 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.