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  Commerce Secretary Ross Testifies on 2020 Census  CSPAN  March 14, 2019 10:00am-12:01pm EDT

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the meeting will come to order.
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without objection the chair is authorized to declare a recess at any time. this hearing will dsh this hearing will receive the testimony of the honorable wilbur ross, secretary of commerce, regarding the 2020 census. i now recognize the ranking member. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'd like to start with a resolution that we have mr. chairman, the resolution i'd like to introduce for the committee's immediate consideration. resolution deals with the fact that two weeks ago we in a witness come here and at our count lied at least 7 times on the witness stand. two obvious lies. when he said he did not seek a position at the white house, did not want a position at the white house when in fact we know he did. and then of course his statements that he never -- i stress the word never -- sought a pardon. we think that it's important we sent you a letter yesterday, mr.
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chairman. we'd love for you to join us in calling for the justice department to examine this issue so we have a resolution. i'd be happy to read it if the chairman wants but a resolution we'd like for immediate consideration for the committee saying that mr. cohen committed perjury and should be investigated by the department of justice. >> mass the judge i'm sure is well aware the resolution is out of order. and -- however, we would welcome to you submit the resolution as a document for the record. >> i ask unanimous consent that the resolves that we prepared be entered into the record saying that michael cohen willfully and knowingly provided false information, false testimony under oath before the committee on february 27th, 2019. >> without objection, so ordered. it is a part of the record. a part of the record only.
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all right. i recognize the gentleman for his opening statement. >> thank you, mr. chairman. before i begin i want to thank secretary ross for appearing today. also i want to take note that under your leadership your team led by karen dun kelly managed to turn around the 2020 census. under the obama administration the 2020 census was in disarray, nobody knew how much was spent on the census. let it development was a mess. simply there was no leadership. i applaud you and your team for the excellent leadership. i'm more confident now than i was two years ago when you last testified before the committee that we will have a successful 2020 census. now i want to turn to the reason we're here today. it's the most talked about issue on the 2020 census, the citizenship question. i mean for the life of me i do not know why the democrats don't want to know how many citizens are in the united states of america. but for some reason they are focused on this question.
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maybe it's politics. it seems clear to me we are having the hearing today for that reason. the majority insists on politicizing the 2020 census. before we get too far in this side show i want to on the record what the citizenship question actually asks. it says this. is this person a citizen of the united states? the answers you can choose from are the following. yes, born in the united states. yes, born in puerto rico, guam, the u.s. virgin islands, yes, born abroad. of the a u.s. citizen parent irnt pennsylvania are parents. yes a u.s. citizen by naturalization or no not a u.s. citizen. that's it. question don't even ask the next logical question if you're not a citizen, are you in this country legally while i strongly support asking if a person is in this country legally. i'm satisfied the public policy goal of enenforcing the voting
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rights act ask be done with the citizen question. i'd like to remind my colleagues the citizenship question inspect not new. it's appeared on previous questionnaire as asked on the american community survey every year. the majority apparently does not object to the american community survey asking the citizenship question. so i don't understand the majority's objection to the question now. it is the exact same question on both forms. my colleagues complaint the question hasn't been tested because it was added at the last minute. the argument is false. the question has gone through rigorous testing over more than a dozen years as it appeared on the american community survey. in fact, the community survey required more rigorous testing for in question than the question would have received in 2018 census tests. the american community survey is sent to 3 million households annually while the 2018 census testified in prove dense, rhode island was tested on 600,000 people one time if doing the
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math in the past ten years the citizenship question mass already been answered by 30 million households. wait there is more. in an effort to address some of my colleague's objections the census bureau agreed to conduct a the 2019 census test. specifically on the citizenship question. so it's just not true that this question is it untested. we all know one of the biggest threats to the census is lack of a trusting government. today people don't trust government and don't want to voluntary provide private information. therefore people are less likely to fill out the 2020 census than they were ten years ago for the 2010 census. the marngt drum beat against the legitimate question on a person's citizenship status only compounds the problem. if self-response for the 2020 census declines it will be due to the majority spreading of misinformation, instead of scaring people out of completing the census form let's work together to collect the data the department of justice says is needed to enforce the voting rights act. the purpose of the data collected by the citizenship
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question is after all to ensure everyone's vote is counted fairly and no one suffers discrimination at the ballot box. surely the majority does not object to at robust enforcement of the voting rights act. until last year i would assumed any data to collected to sfft in would have been welcomed by colleagues. i guess i was wrong. i guess i was wrong. what concerns me the most though about the majority's objection with the citizenship question is it distracts from this committee's work from conducting oversight on other parts of the 2020 census. this committee should hold hearings about the 2020 census use of the i.t. systems and cybersecurity preparations. after all this is the first time households can respond to the census questionnaire online. we should bring in the government publishing office to explain the epic contradicting disaster with the 2020 census print contract which will cost taxpayers another $30 million if there are no cost overreturns .as members of congress we have a duty to encourage people to complete the census form honestly and
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accurately. article 1, section 2 of the constitution requires the government to enumerate the population of the united states. if it were up to me i would ask only one question how many people are in the houmtds. this is all required by the constitution. oufr congressman and president have the said it's more important to squ kbes about composition of for me if we ask people age, race, relationship status, certainly, certainly it is in the public interest to ask if they are citizens of the greatest country in history. mr. chairman, i yield back. >> we will now recognize -- now recognize mr. meadows. >> thank you -- thank you mr. chairman. secretary ross, thank you and your entire team for being here. as you are well aware, this is not the first hearing on the census. in fact, when the republicans were in the majority we had not -- not one, not two, but
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multiple hearings and briefings as it relates to the census. and i see some of your staff behind you shaking their head yes. they will know i have not always been the most positive when it comes to where we are in our census progress. i do want to state for the record today that your team has been extremely responsive to the point where we had critical missions. in fact, some critical missions that still exist today that we should be using this hearing for when we talk about end to end test, the security, cybersecurity of what we're going to actually implement in in new process of gathering information, mr. secretary. and so i want to say thank you for listening to the calls in bipartisan way of really looking to make sure the census is
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reliable and one that actually counts the citizens of this great country, and every person that is here. now, with that being said, that's not what this hearing is about, sadly. and we can see by the crowds and the cameras that this has nothing to do with making sure that the census is accurately implemented and cyber security is dealt with. in fact, it has just the opposite. this comes down, as the gentleman from ohio, the ranking member indicated, to one question, and why we're asking that one question. now, mr. secretary, i'm sure we'll hear from your testimony today that this is not the first time that we have asked the citizenship question on the census. in fact, when president bill clinton was in office we actually asked one in six people if they were a citizen of the united states of america on the
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census. but it wasn't just then. every 10 years predominantly we asked this question whether one in six or one in five or dating back to the 1950s and '40s when we asked everyone this question. all of a sudden, the census has taken on a new height of political spectrum that the i fail to realize why would we not want to know if someone was a citizen of this great country or not? now, when we look at this, to go even further, mr. secretary, here is my concern. the supreme court has weighed in on this. in fact, justice gorsuch and justice thomas both raised concerns that when we start to ask questions that it would be used to influence the courts. in fact, they ruled on it and said we shouldn't be doing that.
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but yet here we are today asking questions to try to influence the highest court in the land. now, i say that -- these are not just my words. it's actually the words of a member from this particular committee, a member from this committee actually said -- and i quote -- that he hopes that the testimony today, quote, that the courts can use it, close quote. now, if we are setting up a hearing today to try to by pass what the supreme court has already ruled on, and yet we are thinking that we are going to do this in the name of being great supporters of the constitution, that's not accurate, mr. secretary. and i'm troubled by that. because it's very clear what the supreme court has asked. it's very clear what our role should and should not be. and yet we look at this
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particular question. are we saying that asking a citizenship question is unconstitutional? i hope not. because we ask that on a variety of other things. we ask it many times for driver's license. we actually ask whether you're a citizen or not in order to get a firearm in the state of california. should we take the citizenship question off and make it easier for people to get firearms regardless of whether near a citizen or not? i don't know that we would get the same response from my friends and colleagues opposite. mr. secretary, we are here today and we are hoping for very clear and transparent testimony from you. i expect that we will get that. but yet just be clear. many of the questions that you will receive today have nothing to do with accurately counting the number of people that are here in the united states of america. it has everything to do with politics, and everything to do
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with trying to make sure that one particular message comes across. and, mr. chairman, i yield back. >> thank you very much. i am about to declare a recess because we have a vote to the members. we have alerted the floor that we are running a little late. we're going to go and vote. and we'll come back at 20 -- 20 of the hour. 20 of the hour. secretary ross, i'm sorry. but we got to vote. and so i now declare us in recess until 20 of the hour.
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this house oversight committee hearing on the 2020 census sus taking a break for votes on the house floor. while we wait for them to return, we'll show you some of this morning's washington journal. >> and we are back here with jim banks, republican of indiana. he sits on the armed services a and veterans affairs committee let's start with the budget and the president wants to increase defense spending 5%. we had a caller earlier ask we are winding down two wars why do we need to increase defense spending by 5%. >> the president's number self $750 billion is right where it needs to be as we prepare for
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the threats of the future. while we might be winding down efforts and in places like afghanistan, syria, iraq, the threat still remains in those places. but the strategic nature of our competition with places -- countries like china, russia, iran and the the renewed focus on those dsh on those adversaries means we have to rebuild the military. i'm still new in washington, d.c. my first term was last term. i'm in the third year of the time on capitol hill. what i've learned among everything else and see defense spending is one area of the pie that was cut over the past 10 years. we're in a rebuilding phase. and the president's $750 billion blin for defense spending gets us right back on track with where we need to to be. >> where does the money go? >> overall, it's rebuilding capabilities, improving readiness of the military, all -- all across the board. so whether it's rebuilding the
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force structure of the army or rebuilding the nature of the navy, modernizing the navy, a lot of modernization of platforms. it really -- $750 billion goes to all of the above. i mean all of the areas that you think of with defense and with modernizing national defense that the money goes to all the above. >> it would cut non-defense spending by 9%. however the "washington post" notes that the administration now projects deficits would total $1.19 trillion in 2020 or 4.9% of gross domestic product and would exceed $1 trillion the next three years. does that concern you? >> absolutely. spending is -- remains a problem and it's been a problem under the republicans and democrats in washington, d.c. the president's budget does, though, balance around the 12th year and gets close to balancing at the 10-year mark. that part of it i like. but when we talk about the budget caps -- get back into
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that -- the complicated nature of the budget caps, that's where in budget proposal gets tricky. and that's why the non-defense cuts at 19.1 trillion and the increase in defense cuts, it's all a part of that budget cap equation. by the way the budget caps go away at the 2021 mark. we're not that far from the in my opinion ridiculous and disastrous deal passed around 2011, long before i got to congress came about, that led to the downslide of defense spending at that point. and about a 25% cut in defense spending over the past 10 years. so a lot of us who are defense hawks on capitol hill are looking forward to the point where the budget caps -- the bunlt cap deal goes away and makes in less complicated in how we approach budgets and spending on capitol hill. >> i want to invite the view viewers to top.
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dmakts. 202748, 8. taking your questions and your comments about the defense budget. the roll call notes this that candidate trump vowed to quote save medicare and medicaid and social security without cuts. have to do it, he said. people have been paying in for years and now years many of the candidates want to cut it but the 2020 spending request floats less on a made kir a $1.5 trillion cut to medicaid and $25 billion cut to social security. are those cuts needed in order to spend more on defense? >> not at all. and really those cuts aren't cuts to those programs for anyone that relies on them today. these are many reforms that are necessary to maintain these programs and make them sustainable well into the future. that's where -- i haven't been critical of the administration because these are steps in the right drengs. but we have to take much more
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significant steps in the direction of reforming social security and medicare and medicaid, not just to address the $22 trillion national debt but to save the programs for my daughter's generations, for future generations and the president's budget proposal this year takes small steps in those directions. knows aren't cuts to those programs. those are reforms to the program that will make them sustainable in the future. it won't cut any of the programs for individuals relying on the programs today. >> let's get to call. to deleino a democrat in missouri. you're up first. >> thank you very much. i'd like to mention that the pentagon has never been audited because they can't audit it, there are so many holes in the system. my brother-in-law was commander in the navy with mcmahon and his comment is any war is better than no war at all. anything nothing we do just like
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wells fargo, once the consumer protection act got into that system they absolutely -- they almost destroyed the -- get pelosi and feinstein was setting right under that bank. it's amazing, waste, fraud and abuse. thank you very much. >> congressman, your thoughts. >> it's a great point. the very first audit of the pentagon ever started a little over a year ago. so under this administration that is occurring. it is a 10-year audit process. as a member of the armed services committee we have had a number of hearings before the committee about the progress of those audits. they're complicated. going to take a lot of time. but through that process the pentagon is finding areas where they can claim savings. they're discovering assets at the pentagon they didn't know they had, they can either get rid of or maximize for that their purposes.
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and when secretary mattis was still leading the pentagon he talked about how the audit is going to help us into the future. while we might not be able to grow defense spend be, the savings from audit will help us keep a baseline number where we need defense aspening to remain. >> mouch of an impact will the audits have over the years. >> to be determined. but i believe over the next decade, as this audit process is well under way, it could claim savings that if we can't maintain a -- where we are in the current budget, 718 billion-dollar baseline for defense spending -- now we're asking for 750 billion. if it's somewhere in between, maybe the audit if we can't reach that figure, maybe the audit can help us maintain savings that would help us maintain those figures. >> todd in tampa, florida, republican, hi, todd. >> it's scott. >> okay. scott in tampa, florida. republican. go ahead. >> okay. i'm -- i grew up in the midwest.
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i now live in florida. i'm a supporter of a strong military. but, you know, it seems like we are just throwing money every which way. and current budget, the air force announced that it's going to buy eight f-15 xs which will turn into 80 maybe 140. the plane will probably easily cost $$125 million based on a plane that dates back to the '70s. 45 years old. but it's a brand new f-35 backup the price is coming down. export orders are going up. we can buy that plane for $80, $90 million apiece. and it's worth 20 times the f-5 axe that we're spending much more money for. all the experts are shaking their heads saying, this is corporate welfare. what's going on here? you know? the acting secretary of defense
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is an ex-boeing executive and look at all the contracts going to boeing. and this is a perfect example of this plane. it's not needed. the air force doesn't want it. the experts say you're crazy. and we're going to go spend billions and billions of dollars in a defense budget that's -- while it's big we're making up for all the stuff, all the -- all the defense stuff that we cut back years ago, you know we need to think smarter. >> okay scott let's get reaction from the congressman. >> scott raises one of the more interesting debates we're going to have before the armed services committee as we debate the national defense authorization act over the next couple months. and that's how this process works. remember the president submits his budget proposal. and -- and in most cases in recent years it merely sets a baseline for the debate moving forward. and then we -- in the congress it's our responsibility to pass the budget which by the way doesn't happen very often.
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republicans failed that leadership test to pass a budget last year. democrats are already talking about not passing a budget this year as well. this budget exercise is -- is at the end of the day beginning the process qb beginning the debate. so this debate over f- -- a reduction in f-35s and buying a few more f-15 xs is a debate we will have in the armed services committee during the ndaa process. and i imagine it will be a vigorous debate between those of us who see positives and benefits from both platforms and having a healthy number of both f-35s and maintaining the kprorns importance of that program but also recognizing that the f-15s might give us some added benefits in the short-term as well. >> vigorous and lengthy debate that we often cover here on c-span. the amendment process, the marking up the defense authorization bill. >> i can't wait. i thoroughly enjoy -- i've been
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through two of the processes. it's sometimes a 16, 18-hour day in the armed services committee room. and we debate every issue under the sun as it's related to our military. and one of the debates will be less f-35s, more f-15s. and that will be a bipartisan debate. and at the -- at the end of the process we'll pass an ndaa authorizing a certain number for each platform. >> congressman, i want to get request your reaction to the headline in the "washington post". the veterans affairs chief robert wilkie pushed to be president next pentagon chief. would you approve. >> i don't know. i've enjoyed working with secretary wilkie in the short time he has been at the department of veterans affairs and appreciate the mindset he brought. especially on the areas that i'm focused on in i.t. modernization, the electronic health record monsterization under way at the v.a., a huge 16.1 billion-dollar contract. and a 10-year implementation.
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it's important to veterans. one of my complaints about the leadership at the v.a. is it's been a revolving door. we had secretary shulkin and the issues that ensued there. we had a too long of a interim process between shulkin and wilkie. if secretary wilkie will be tapped to move on to something else, that would create another delay in a lot of the important programs going on at the v.a. i don't know if it's mere speculation that he is pursuing the job or if he really has. i mean a lot of in is based on internal sources and rumors. i have no doubt that he would be a great leader at the department of defense, as that's where he came from before. he became the secretary of the v.a. i don't have a good answer for you at this point. but i do believe that when it comes to the department of veterans affairs where we have a lot of large bureaucratic issues we need to solve and
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modernization issues, the continuity of leadership is important. and secretary wilkie hasn't been there very long. so keeping him there for long enough to pursue the goals he laid out are important as well. >> well let's go to robert in california, independent. robert you're on the air with the congressman. go ahead. >> great. and congressman, yeah, i'm a military history person please bear were pay from the jiepten to the romans now to the president day american kbir pap had. and what happens as soon as you start losing the grip on the military you don't -- you're not leading the world anymore. it's processor very important thing what happened to obama. he slashed the budget. auchlds isis started getting stronger and then the chinese starting building islands -- the fake islands and all. and our military was getting pushed around the world because they were concentrating on the global climate change i'm wait a minute we ought to concentrate on the safety. safety is the first most important part for american
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democracy, american growth, american business, and american infrastructure. it's the most important thing, period. there is nothing you can -- you have to have a very, very strong military. or you will collapse. and you've seen that throughout history. english, even the germans had the powerful military clpsed on themselves because stupidity on their part mostly. by can't be stupid. we have to pay the price. because what mr. obama's -- how he decimated our military thank you zbleech okay. okay so congressman where are the next threats? how does this defense department need to evolve. >> robert's point is important. a strong national defense is important. as we look back in modern times what president trump has been able to much achieve in rebuilding the military is much lake under president reagan. a significant military rebuild. i mean, really the parallel in so many ways.
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but president trump has also succumbed to same temptations of the previous administration, what many of us criticized president obama for for retreating from america's role in the world. the abrupt drawdown in afghanistan. we know where it leads because when president obama bankruptly left iraq and afghanistan we saw the rise of isis and our adversaries grow and rebuild terrorist groups like isis and al qaeda rebuild and grow in those places in the world. that's a concern many of us on capitol hill on both sides of the aisle are worried about. if president president trump suck coupl-- then the imnents ts of isis k and afghanistan and groups rebuilding in that part of the world will pose a defense threat to the united states of america and our allies for many years to come.
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but on top of that it's in my opinion it's -- it's -- it's all about china and what we have seen derive from china's tactics of espionage and stealing our intellect the property in the united states, but also stealing our military secrets as well. and there are many notable examples and cases of that we read about in the newspapers and seen on the news over the past week of stealing our navy and maritime secrets from some supply -- supplier type businesses in the supply chain to stealing some of our research on college campuses. this is all a part of a long-term chinese strategy to disrupt our -- the nature of our military strategies moving forward, too. >> this sounds all like cyber threats of stealing our intellectual property, our data, our military secrets, et cetera. so why does that cost so much?
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and what are we doing to stop this threat? >> well, to boil in down, the chinese have developed a platform of their own that looks a lot like the f-35 that we have invested billions of dollars in as well. so when you -- when you boil it down and compare -- and recognize that that's what this means, is that the chinese have stolen many of our secrets to build up their own capabilities and match or exceed our capabilities, have exceeded us by the way in areas like hypersonic missiles and some of those capabilities, then this doesn't just pose a military threat but also, you know, boil it down to defense spending and what takes to catch up. and exceed their capabilities too. so the big picture here is that there is a lot of focus on russia over the past couple of years. and russia continues and remains
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a threat to the united states of america too. but chinese -- the chinese i believe pose a longer term much more complicated threat that we have to address. and the president's national defense strategy lays out a way forward to address it. but we can't retreat from the american -- america's traditional role on that stage in the world and expect that the outcome will be anything different than what we've seen before. >> let's go to wayne, hand over, pennsylvania, democrat. >> good morning. >> good morning. >> good morning, congressman. you know, i like you. i'm a democrat. but you know what if democrats and you republicans could get together -- i'm not going to rebuild a whole bunch of stuff it can make a lot of sense. but if we could get together and impeach this man and go on he is nothing but a liar. you know what i'm talking about. i've seen -- by the way you're
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talking, the stuff that he wants to do and look at what -- you talk about draining the swamp. look how many of these guys getting locked up. that's all got to change. just can't go on. talk to to your enemies and get this man pout and let's get something going here. let's get this country back on track. get the debt down. you ain't doing it while he is in there. he will tell you one minute look at i'm not going to touch med err care or touchood sow social security but what happens? he lied. thank you and you all have a great day. >> all right. congressman. >> i was pleased hear spaerk pelosi let's take impeachment off the table and focus on what we can accomplish in the next 18 months before the next election. but we're in that period of time as we get closer to the november 2020 election, it's the silly season on capitol hill. and things become more politicized unfortunately. but i am pleased to your caller's question that there are juries of -- where bipartisanship still works on capitol hill.
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and a lot of that comes from our work to support our veterans, our work to support our troops and those are two committees that i happen to sit on. i've seen bipartisanship when republicans were in charge and now as democrats are in charge in those areas. that's where i will continue to focus and do my work. >> brian is watching in northeastern washington, independent. brian you're on the air with congressman jim banks. what's your question or kbhent. lost him on to stacey in clearfield, utah, republican. hi, stacey. >> good morning, actually just a comment -- maybe a question too. i was in the air force for a long period of time. i'm now out. so i know how the military works. and i know it's proposed for them to get a 3% raise, which is fantastic. i'm all for that. i'm also now a federal worker in utah. and for the second straight here they are proposing to freeze just a small modest cost of living raise.
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and so as a federal employee i'm the bread winner for my family of four we see everything going up and up. for the second year we're into the proposed to get any raise at all, you know. they had dsh excuse me. they had a part of the federal workers were out of work for a period of time which really hurt. and now, you know, everything is going up, two, 3, 4% and the federal worker isn't getting any raises to keep up with the economy. so i'd just like to know, to get his feedback on that. and what he thinks is just. not from president trump's point of view but his point of view. >> congressman banks. >> yeah, to the initial point, in the president's proposed budget troops will receive the largest pay raise in ten years. i support that and will continue to support that moving forward. as far as federal government employee pay raises, i can't speak to that. i haven't dug that deeply into the budget.
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but to make the budget balance at some point in the future, there are many tough cuts and decisions that were made by the president. once again, this is a proposed document by the white house. many of my colleagues have already thrown their copy of the budget in the trash can. for others it's the beginning of the debate, a blaine for the debate. i think it's a good place to start. we need to pass a budget that balances the -- begins to address the $22 trillion national debt. that's what i'm working on by the way as chairman of the budget and spending task force for the republican study committee. we're sbrusing our own budget proposal in the process that will balance before this -- before peen the president's budget would and would cut in areas that goes further nan the president's budget as well to address this big issue of a $2 trillion national debt. >> where do you think more cuts could be made. >> all over the place. where do we begin. >> defense as well. >> not in defense. i believe we can balance the
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budget and get to the $750 billion baseline for defense cuts. but look at many other areas. once a week i sit down with my colleagues and we go through every area of the budget. we spent an hour last night going through many health care related ideas where we can stabilize programs and make cuts and in some areas. related to that. last woke we dealt with issues related to another area of the budget. as we go through and find programs where we can cut, it's what the american people have figured out already, that if you cut a million here and 10 million there soon enough you're talking about hundreds and of millions and millions can lead to trillions of cuts and we can begin the process of driving down the $national debt. >> if mcis the biggest threat and they spend according to this -- according to wikipedia -- if they spend 146
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billion in 2016 on their defense spending and we are spending 750 billion, why do we need to spend so much if they're the biggest threat and they're only spending 146 billion. >> they're not the only threats. when we think about the efforts in places to address radical terrorist groups like al qaeda and isis. by the way, isis k. is growing in afghanistan. that's one of the unspoken stories out of afghanistan today, a threat much like the threat of al qaeda, dating back to 15 to 20 years ago. these are threats we have to address as well. and threats that pose an imminent danger to the homeland which is the initial reason that we went into afghanistan to begin with. as we address that, as we address the growing threats of china ---en a china doesn't just pose a military threat. they pose an economic threat to the united states that is the
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impetus of the president's ongoing trade negotiations, which by the way he has made some great progress in that area as well. we have to talk about russia. we have to talk about iran. there is a -- there is a much larger nature to america's role when it comes to the military strength around the world that doesn't compare apples to apples with what mcspends as far as a dollar figure. >> let's go to kim, cedar park, texas. democrat hi, kim. >> hi, greta, long time no talk. and nice to meet you representative jim banks. what we -- what i pulled out of all of your talking points, which they go on and on. i just hope all the democrats that are running for president or candidates are listening. mayor pete buttigieg. i hope you listen. 250,000 president want an increase which is crazy, absolutely ludicrous. what's a national emergency? let me tell i we need to take
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250 -- do you remember when john mcmahon was standing on the floor when the budget was at 500. this was before his cancer came out. and this is when with had all the troops in afghanistan. now we brought them back. no, sir here is what we need. we need infrastructure. we need to invest in the people. we need school loans forgiveness. we need v.a. mental health conditioning. we have a drug addiction. on the streets. you know nothing of what -- well you know your stuff. fix the military, get it strong. but, no 250. and you need to not touch the social security. or medicaid. these are things if you don't invest in the people, representative banks, this is a national crisis. and the daca children have already been here. if you don't invest in the people we're going to have a civil war. and that's what -- that's what's going to happen. and we're going to tear everything up. >> kim's comments in texas. i want the congressman to jump
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in. >> there are so many issues that were just addressed. but i should say the president's budget also proposes a number of increasing in domestic spending as well. while it might cut some areas. he does propose a $200 billion-dollar in infrastructure development. $4.8 billion more toward addressing the opioid crisis in this country. some significant proposals for higher education, the family leave and child care act. >> mr. chairman, i have a number of motions i would like to make at this time. >> let me come out of the recess first. >> sorry. i'm really excited about my motions. >> no problem. mr. chairman, point of order. >> yes. >> ask to be recognized. mr. chairman, purnts to house rule 16, clause 4 alpha one i have a privilege motion. taking into consideration as statements made before the
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committee today could potentially be used to influence a pending supreme court case i respectfully make a motion to adjourn. >> the gentleman is not recognized. >> mr. chairman, i believe you did recognize me and this is a privilege motion. >> i was recognizing the gentle lady -- she already had the floor. i'll come back at you she had the floor. >> mr. chairman he cited the rule. >> you said i was recognized and this is a privileged motion has been presented before the committee. >> the motion is not debatable. knows in favor sniff by saying
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ayem those opsed no. >> ask for roll call. >> mr. chairman i ask for a recorded vote. >> that's what we are doing. >> thank you, sir. >> the clerk will call the roll. >> mr. cummings. >> no. >> mr. cummings votes no. >> miss maloney. miss norton. miss norton votes no. mr. clay. mr. clay votes no.
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mr. lynch. mr. lynch votes no. mr. cooper. >> no. >> mr. cooper votes no. >> mr. connelly. >> ney. >> mr. connelly votes no. mr. krismorethis. >> no. >> coat votes no. >> mr. ras kin. >> no. >> mr. raskin votes no. mr. ruda votes no. miss hill. miss hill votes no. miss wasserman-schultz votes no. mr. sarbanes. mr. sarbanes votes no. mr. welch. miss spear. miss spear votes no. miss kelly. mr. desanyeah. miss lawrence. miss lawrence votes no. miss massket. miss plasket votes no.
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mr. kana votes no. mr. gomez. mr. gomez votes no. miss ocasio-cortez votes no. miss presley. miss presley votes no. miss it's tlaib votes no. mr. jordan votes no. mr. gosar. votes yes. miss fox. miss fox votes yes. mr. massy. mr. massy votes yes. mr. meadows. mr. meadows votes yes. mr. heist. mr. heist votes yes. mr. graphman. mr. graphman votes yes. mr. comber. mr. comber votes yes. mr. cloud. mr. cloud votes yes. mr. gibbs. mr. gibbs votes yes.
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mr. higgins. mr. higgins votes yes. mr. norman. mr. norman votes yes. mr. roy. mr. roy votes yes. miss miller. miss miller votes yes. mr. green votes yes. mr. armstrong. mr. armstrong votes yes. mr. stube. mr. stube votes yes. # on this vote we have -- on this vote we have 17 yeas and 20 nos.
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>> i now recognize miss hill. >> thank you, mr. chairman. point of clarification. i know that i'm new which is why i got a little overeager earlier, but prior to us getting here, how many times did we as democrats try to shut down a hearing like this, while the republicans were in the majority? >> in my 23 years on this committee, never. >> thank you. mr. chairman, i have a number of motions i would like to make at this time. >> the gentle lady is recognized. >> as the gentleman from louisiana suggested, following mr. jordan and mr. meadows' publishing an op-ed yesterday asserting today's hearing is and i quote designed to interfere with the ongoing supreme court case, that statement is false. i ask unanimous consent to enter into the record the invitation
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letter that chairman cummings sent to secretary ross on january 8th, 2019. >> i object. >> the gentleman objects. >> mr. chairman. >> okay. >> would my colleague yield for a second. >> yes. >> i would plead with my friend from north carolina if we're going to go down the road of objecting to unanimous consent and inclusions of material for the record, it will be a sad day for this committee and two can play that game. so i would strongly urge my friend from north carolina to withdraw his objection to unanimous consent. >> i appreciate the tone and tenor of where my good friend from virginia would certainly articulate his concerns and i have some of the same concerns. we don't want to go down this. i would ask the gentle woman to consider changing one of the
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phrases that she put in there where she says this is false. i mean, you can say i have a resolution that contradicts, we have a number of things, but to suggest that it's false when we have a quote from a democrat member of this committee stating what i said in my opening statement, there would certainly be evidence to support my opening statement. if she wants to put in a resolution that offers a counterpart i would be glad to withdraw my objection. >> i will change my phrasing and say that we have a -- several things that i would like to enter into the record that contradict what the statement that was put in place in your op-ed and by the gentleman -- >> then i certainly withdraw my objection. >> i thank both of my colleagues. >> order, so ordered. next document. >> i ask unan nous consent to enter into the record the letter sent to secretary ross. that's the one we did. that letter sent over a month before the supreme court agreed
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to hear the case. for the record, the chairman sent his invitation letter to secretary ross before either the district court in new york or the district court in california ruled in their cases. i would also like to ask unanimous consent to -- >> without objection so ordered on that. that was the second document, right? >> same one. >> i was elaborating. >> go ahead. >> i would like unanimous consent to insert into the record the following letters from chairman cummings dating all the way back to march of has year on this exact same topic. there's a march 27th, 2018, letter to chairman gowdy requesting this very hearing with secretary ross. he declined. there is an april 4th, 2018, letter requesting dproumtsz the commerce document. they refused. there is an april 24, 2018 letter, asking chairman gowdy to issue a subpoena. he declined. there's a may 21st, 2018 letter, asking chairman gowdy to allow a vote on subpoenas and he declined. there's a june 28, 2018 letter
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from chairman cummings, maloney and 50 other democratic members asking secretary ross to answer questions. he never did. there is an august 2nd, 2018 letter, asking chairman gowdy again to hold a hearing with secretary ross and he refused. there's a september 24th, 2018 letter from representative cummings and representative connelly asking chairman gowdy to subpoena secretary ross to testify about his misleading statements to congress. he declined to do so. as all of these letters show, the republican claim that we are trying to interfere with the supreme court case is completely contradicted. >> without objection, the documents referred to by the gentlelady will be ordered into the record. we're an independent branch of government and time we started acting like it. thank you. >> thank you very much. >> can i quick one quick
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unanimous consent is ? >> yes, please. >> the op-ed published yesterday we would like to enter that into the record for mr. meds do and myself. >> just tell me a little bit more. it's an op-ed. >> the very -- the democrats, the op-ed on fox news that miss -- >> so ordered. >> thank you. i -- yes. >> a letter penned by supreme court justice gorsuch and thomas warning against further record seeking endeavors in a legal setting because to quote them, after weighing among other things the likelihood of review and the injury that could occur without a stay, this letter written by two supreme court justices, not by a member of a committee in congress, warning against further legal
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proceedings, which this certainly is, which could injure the integrity of the case pending before the supreme court. i ask that it be entered into the record. >> without objection so ordered. >> mr. chairman. >> yes. >> i also have a unanimous consent request. there's been some speculation by some members of this committee that we can't possibly have this hearing or even request documents when there's pending civil litigation and we have a long history in this committee of actually doing just that. i ask unanimous consent to enter into the record excerpts from the flint water hearing committee transcript of march 17th, st. patrick's day, 2016, that hearing was the third hearing as part of the bipartisan investigation which was then led by chairman cha chaffetz and yourself mr. couple approximation. they conducted the hearings despite litigation followed by environmental and civil rights groups against individuals including the michigan governor
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at that time rick snider in january 2016. i would ask unanimous consent to enter that into the record. >> so ordered. >> and unanimous consent to insert into the record two letters dated july 24th, 2015 from chairman chaffetzs jordan and chairwoman lieu miss to the assistant secretary of the army at that time. these letters were part of the investigation into the decision making process for the waters of the united states rule. that investigation was conducted nonetheless at the same time as litigation filed in june of 2015 by 22 states challenging the rules. subsequently, the committee demanded and obtained documents in response to their request during the pending litigation. i ask those letters be entered into the record. >> without objection. >> mr. chairman. i've got one last unanimous consent request. i ask unanimous consent that article published by npr on
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march 14th where it has a quote from a member of this committee suggesting that the -- this hearing would be used as evidence before the supreme court be entered into the record. >> without objection so ordered. >> thank you. >> i recognize myself. let my say this at the beginning of the hearing, i provided the undersigned with an extra opening statement. rather than take additional time for mine at this time i will reserve for our side so we can start the hearing and proceed to member questions. good morning, everyone. today the committee will hear testimony from secretary of commerce the honorable wilbur ross about preparations for the 2020 census. the constitution requires our government to conduct a census every ten years.
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the constitution requires us to count every person. the latest census begins next year. and significant challenges have been raised by the government accountability office and others about whether we will be ready. today's hearing will be our first of several this year and we will look to our very able subcommittee on civil rights and civil liberties headed up by the honorable jamie raskin to follow up with additional hearings. we want to make sure that we're tracking progress, highlighting small problems before they become large problems. ensuring that outstanding recommendations are being
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implemented effectively and efficiently. today, we will also examine secretary ross' decision to add a few citizenship question after experts, listen up, at the census bureau warn and i quote, that it harms the quality of the census count. that's sink in. that's what the experts told secretary ross. we have very serious questions about whether secretary ross was truthful when he appeared before congress last year and testified on three occasions that he added the citizenship question only
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because the department of justice requested it. ladies and gentlemen, on march 20th, 2018, secretary ross set to provide and i, quote, we are responding solely to the department of justice's request, end of quote. he repeated the same claim on march 22nd and then he did it again on may 10. after secretary ross testified, new documents showed that he was engaged in a secret campaign to add the citizenship question from the very first days after he arrived at the department of commerce. these documents showed that he was not merely responding to
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requests from another agency. to the contrary he was co choreographing these efforts behind the scenes. he became impatient when his demands were not being met and he was working directly with officials at the highest levels of the trump administration to force the issue through, including steve bannon and jeff sessions. these are the facts. they are not in dispute. two judges, two judges, have already struck down the citizenship question. they should stinging decisions finding that secretary ross violated, i didn't say it,
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judges said it, violated federal law and the united states constitution and they found that his claim of merely responding to a request from the department of justice was a pretext and a false one. again i didn't say that, the judges said that. let me address that pretext directly. secretary ross and others if the trump administration have claimed that adding the citizenship question was necessary to obtain better data to enforce the voting rights act. first of all, i do not know anyone who truly believes that the trump administration is interested if enhancing the voting rights act. this administration has done everything in its power to suppress the vote, not to help
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people exercise their right to vote. second, i have championed voting rights all of my adult life. and the voting rights act an essential tool and underpins our democracy. in the more than 50 years since signed into law, the voting rights act enforcement has never used citizenship data from every u.s. household. not once. third, the judges who asked this evidence held that the voting rights act claim was a fake justification for the citizenship question. i didn't say it. they said it. one judge ruled that secretary
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ross and i quote, listen to this, this is what they said about secretary ross, a judge, says, quote, concealed its true bases rather than explaining it, end of quote. so the key question we will ask secretary ross today is what was he hiding from the congress. what's the real reason that trump administration wanted to add this unconstitutional citizenship question. every piece of evidence we discover brings us closer to the truth. just this past week, the committee conducted a transcribed interview with a key witness from the department of justice. john gore. who was involved with drafting
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the request for citizenship question. mr. gore admitted that a former transition team official provided him an initial draft of a letter from the department of justice asking for the citizenship question to be added. we have summarized this and other information from mr. gore's interview in a supplemental memo that i am providing to members this morning. unfortunately, throughout this entire process, the trump administration has obstructed and delayed our investigation. both the department of commerce and the department of justice have withheld key documents and refused to answer legitimate questions. now secretary ross and i exchanged several letters last
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week. we accommodated some of his concerns and thankfully he accommodated some of ours. i appreciate that, mr. secretary. based on these agreements, i expect secretary ross to fully answer all of our questions about the census and not avoid our questions based on the meritless claim that there is a separate -- separate litigation going on. so i appreciate that and i look forward to his answers and with that, i am very, very pleased to have the secretary stand, please. >> good morning, chairman cummings. >> i want to swear you in, first. >> oh, sorry. >> i'm sorry. i apologize. >> thank you very much.
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mr. secretary, do you swear or affirm that the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you god? >> i do, sir. >> thank you very much. let the record show that the witness answered in the affirmative and you may be seat and you may proceed. >> good morning, chairman cummings. >> good morning. >> ranking member jordan, and members of the committee. thank you for inviting me to testify. i also thank the chairman for limiting this hearing's scope so that my staff can produce documents beyond the approximately 8,700 already provided. i appreciate your agreement that i can submit written answers to questions about my personal finances after the hearing for the record. many of you have questions about
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the 2020 census and i welcome the opportunity to discuss that topic today. let me be clear at the outset, the department of exercise is fully xhitds to administering as complete and accurate a census as we can. we intend to try to count every person and are taking all necessary actions to do so. when i assumed office in 2017, i immediately began a deep dive into oversight of the census. there was significant work to do, preparing for the hiring and training of more than 450,000 part time temporary census
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workers. working with outside experts we concluded that the prior administration underestimated the budget by $3.2 billion, about 25%. omb and congress accepted our finding. we're also making far greater use of administrative records than ever before, especially for one of the most severely undercounted segments, children. we have a half billion dollar advertising campaign especially designed to reach hard to count communities and on the 2020 dissen yal census people will now be able to respond in 12 non-english languages, five more than in 2010.
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we started our community partnership program a year earlier relative to the census than last time. there already are more than 1,500 state, tribal and local governments helping us, double what the census had in 2010. we will do our best to collect more complete data. on march 26th, 2018, i decide to reinstitute a citizenship question on the 2020 census pursuant to the statutory authority given to me by congress. my reasoning is explained in my march 26th, 2018, decision memo. it is available on the
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department of commerce''s website. questions about citizenship or country of birth or both were asked as part on all but one u.s. census for 180 years from 1820 to the year 2000. indeed, the citizenship question continues to be asked every year by the census bureau on the american community survey or acs for short. it is a sample survey distributed annually to about 2.64% of the american population. prior to my march 26th decision, we understood that the department of justice might want a citizenship question
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reinstated on the census. there is no formal process for adding questions to the census. however, other federal agencies have previously submitted written requests for questions to be added to the acs and such requests triggered an internal census bureau review prior to a final decision. i instructed staff to follow up with doj for a written statement confirming whether or not doj was going to ask for reinstatement of the question. i wanted to make sure that we had enough time to adequately consider any formal request that
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doj might make. ultimately, on december 12th, 2017, doj made a formal written request that census bureau reinstate the citizenship question on the census. doj sought census block-level citizenship data for use in voting rights act enforcement. in response, the census bureau initiated a legal policy and problematic review process to consider ultimate means of meeting doj's request. we had discussions with numerous external stakeholders and elected officials including speaker pelosi and including
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chairman cummings, both of whom opposed the idea. we evaluated thousands of pages of analysis, including written submissions by other members of this committee. we submitted our list of census questions to congress by the march 31st, 2018, statutory deadline. following receipt of doj's letter and during our review, census bureau officials recognized that current acs data did not piece doj's request for census block-level data. the census bureau analysis also showed that when non-citizens respond to the acs question on
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citizenship, they respond incorrectly approximately 30% of the time. in my march 26th decision memo, i described more details of the decision-making process and the alternatives we considered to reinstating the citizenship question. as you know, certain aspects of this issue are in litigation before the supreme court and before other courts. however, i look forward to answering as many of your questions as i can. again, i want to be clear, that we intend to count as many people as possible. i will be happy to discuss the actions we are taking to try to do so. thank you for your indulgence. >> thank you very much. i now recognize myself for some
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questions. secretary ross, you have claimed repeatedly that you added the citizenship question only because the justice department asked you to. you testified under oath on three occasions, each time you said you were responding solely to the department of justice's request. but now we have obtained documents that you were working to add the citizenship question from your very first days at the commerce department. secretary ross, our interest is getting to the truth and then once we get to it we have to defend it. my approach is to give a witness a chance to come clean to tell the truth and to clarify their previous testimony if necessary,
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if necessary. that is what i did with michael cohen and that is what i want to afford you the opportunity to do today. mr. secretary, let me ask you here today, in light of all of these documents that have come to life, do you wish to withdraw your previous testimony to congress that your decision to add the citizenship question was based and i underline solely, solely on the request from the department of justice? >> may i answer, sir? >> of course. >> my reasons for adding the citizenship question are described in detail in the march 26th, 2018, decision memo. after we received the department
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of justice letter on december 12th, 2017, we namely commerce department, myself and the census bureau, initiate a very detailed and very thorough process to consider that request. that's what we were responding to. i had been told that that's what i would say at this stage if you have detailed questions about the testimony we can get into them later on. >> i just want to make sure we're clear because a lot has been said in this committee about the truth and i'm not trying to trip you up. i'm trying to make sure the committee is clear. i think it's very, very important, so i'm going to ask you one more time and then leave that alone. are you saying, again, in light
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of all of these documents that we have -- that have come to light, you do not wish to withdraw your previous testimony? is that what you're saying? >> i testified truthfully to the best of my ability in response to what my understanding of the questions were. >> okay. >> and you understand there are documents that on their face seem to contradict what you're saying? do you understand that? >> i welcome the opportunity to get into the individual documents whenever you wish, sir. >> all right. >> mr. secretary, on march 10th, 2017, just ten -- just ten days after you took office, your staffer sent you an e-mail about, quote, your question on the census, end of quote. his e-mail explained that
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undocumented immigrants are counted for apportionment purposes and not included in the census. mr. secretary, this was nine months before you got any letter from the justice department. isn't that right? >> that is correct, as to the timing. i was early on in the administration and i wanted to understand lots of questions and answers. one of the questions was that one and i received an answer to it. >> and it is your testimony today, sir, that your interest in the citizenship question had nothing to do with counting undocument immigrants for apportionment purposes? >> no, sir. it did not. that was simply seeking information. if you look at my e-mails during that period, you will find lots of others questions and if you
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look at the records of my conversations with members of the department you will find i have lots of questions to this day seeking further information, seeking clarification, seeking details of things that i was unsure of. >> all right. speaking of seeking details, in early april 2017, you got a call from steve bannon about the citizenship question. that was also months before the department of justice sent its letter, is that correct? >> yes, sir. >> is it your testimony that your call with mr. bannon had nothing to do with efforts to pursue the citizenship question? >> steve bannon called with a simple request, namely asking if i would take a call from chris
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cloback and i agreed to that request as a courtesy, since he was a white house staffer, and shortly thereafter, possibly the next day, i did have a conversation with chris cloback. >> and so mr. bannon's -- you spoke to mr. cloback on july 14th, 2017, that is correct? >> yes. i don't remember the date, but some time around there. >> that was the date. >> a point in time, there was a followup from kris kobach to me. >> mr. kobach, you spoke to him on july the 14th, 2017, and mr. kobach e-mailed you and asked you to add the citizenship question. he wrote that it was needed to address the and i want you to listen to me carefully, this is what mr. kobach wrote to you, he
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said, he wanted it added because it says, quote, problem that aliens who do not actually reside in the united states are still counted for congressional apportionment purposes, end of quote. that was also several months before any letter from the justice department came to you, is that correct? >> it is correct that that was before the census letter. it is also correct that i rejected the question that kris kobach wanted asked. >> is it your testimony that nothing in your e-mails or phone calls with mr. kobach had anything to do with your efforts to push the citizenship question? >> i have no control over what kris kobach or anyone else puts in an e-mail sent to me. >> mr. secretary, as we evaluate the truth, we often look to see
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whether testimony is corroborated by documents. these documents on their face show that the reason you have given to us for adding the citizenship question is a pretext. in fall of 2017, your staff hand delivered a secret memo and handwritten note about the citizenship question to john gore at the department of justice. did the secret memo or note describe the real reason you wanted to add the citizenship question? >> first of all, sir, i think i would like to correct the record. i don't believe there's anything in evidence that my staff delivered a message of that sort to gore. >> well, that's why we need to see the documents, so that we
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can get to the truth. we have been trying -- so i'm sorry. >> did you want to say something, mr. secretary? were you about to say something? >> yes. what i would like to ask sir, if you feel you have a document of that sort would you oblige to show it to me? >> i promise i will do that. >> we have been trying to get certain documents for months. we specifically requested it in advance of this hearing. why have you not provided documents to the committee? >> i'm sorry, i didn't hear the question, sir. >> i said why have you not provided the document to the committee? >> we have provided 8,700 documents already and -- >> but not this document. this particular document? >> i can't talk to a specific individual document, sir. i believe by agreement you said that we could provide additional
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documents supplementally and i will discuss that with my staff after the hearing. >> well, when you discuss it with your staff, it's our understanding that mr. meyer presented it to mr. gore. just for your information. mr. uthemeyer. when we had a transcribed interview with mr. gore, he said that mr. uthemeyer presented it to him. i'm just -- just for you information, so maybe you can -- that will be helpful in you finding it, okay. >> thank you very much, sir. >> my time has expired. mr. meadows. >> mr. secretary, over here, there seems to be some indication that there were
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nefarious purposes for including this particular question on the census. do you believe that president bill clinton had nefarious purposes in mind when he included a citizenship question on the 2000 census? >> i have no ability to read president clinton's mind, but i have no reason to believe that he had nefarious purposes in including the question. >> do you have any knowledge of any other democrat president who had nefarious purposes in mind when they included the census question on -- the citizenship question on previous census? >> well, i'm sure there were, but i have not aproposproached as a partisan matter so i haven't tried to differentiate
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whether there's a democratic president or republican president. >> so you're saying that you're approaching this just from a census point of view to get an accurate count for the united states of america? is that your sworn testimony? >> yes, sir, as explained in the decision memo of march 26th, 2018, it is also to comply with the request by the department of justice that we add the citizenship question so that they could have block-level census data. >> so let me go a little bit further, if your team who i would assume that this one question is not the highest priority of making sure that we have an accurate delivery of the system, census, is that correct? >> well, we have worked very hard to make sure that this is the best census we can possibly
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deliver. i explained earlier in my prepared remarks that we have added $3.2 billion to the budget and we got the concurrence of the omb and ultimately the congress to add that to the life cycle cost. if i had a nefarious purpose i wouldn't have added $3.2 billion to the budget for the census. and specific things that we've done to try to improve it. we are using far more administrative records than has ever been the case before. i mentioned briefly that we're adding many records from the state and local levels about children. we now have access for the first time ever to the wic records, the snap records, and the
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[ inaudible ] records from many constituencies. i made many calls to the governors to try to get them to agree to give us those documents. we also have far more census complete count committees with state and local governments than ever before. further, we are hiring far more partnership specialists than had ever been the case before. partnerships are important because they are trusted local institutions from within the community who will be cooperating with us and encouraging people to understand why it's important to complete the census and that their privacy will be maintained. our adver tizing program will
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emphasize both themes. we will have advertising available in multiple languages. we also will have census documents available in 12 languages versus the five other than english that were available before and we have done a couple pore -- many more things. a couple of which that occurred readily to mind, we have provided for those who wish to do so the ability to respond to the census by internet. they're not required to fill out forms or do anything of that sort. they can still fill out forms if they want and respond by telephone if they want, but they're not required to do so. >> so let me -- >> any other steps. i'm sorry, sir. >> let me -- >> time has expired. the gentleman's time has expired. >> mr. chairman, you had ten
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minutes. >> whoa, whoa, whoa. hold on. remember i had an extra five minutes reserved and i used it. i used ten minutes. >> and you had a nine minute opening statement and ten minute opening question round. all he was asking for is one more question. >> one question. >> so mr. secretary, to be clear, you have taken -- is it correct that you have taken extraordinary measures to not only count the number of people accurately, but to expand the way that we do that is unparalleled in the history of the census? >> that is correct, sir. we have increased the ways that they can respond. we have increased the advertising budget for response. we have increased the community outreach. we have increased the census complete count committees in states. we have done all kinds of things that we could think of to make
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sure that we have the best census possible. >> i appreciate the chairman's courtesy. >> thank you very much. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. secretary, i want to really narrow in on specific communication between your department, you and the department of justice that the chairman was alluding to. on august 11, 2017, earl comstack, senior official at the department of commerce, e-mailed you about a memo and he said, according to our information, this is quote, from you, or from him, per your request, here is a draft memo on the citizenship question that james uthermeyer in the office of the general counsel prepared and i reviewed. mr. secretary, why did you request a memo on citizenship question on august -- in august of 2017? >> if you have the memo it would help me refresh my recollection, sir. >> if you will provide us,
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because in our -- our efforts to get this information your coun has made it more difficult. you don't remember the question? >> i don't remember the details of any memo, sir, if you could show me -- >> do you remember it at all? >> if you could show it to me i would be happy to try to be refreshed. >> you don't remember it at all? >> you proposed a very broad question to me, sir. >> it's very specific. >> the memo -- >> this is very important. >> i'm sorry. >> this is very specific and very important as to what you claim is your defense. so we would appreciate as much information from you directly as possible. let me continue. last week committee staff interviewed john gore, the senior doj political appointee in charge of drafting doj's request letter. mr. gore said that in september 2017, he received a call from your counsel, mr. urthemeyer to
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discuss the citizenship question. he hand delivered a memo in a mand written note about citizenship question to mr. gore's office. he didn't e-mail it over. he had someone walk it over. mr. urthmeyer explained to mr. gore why he was walking over the memo but the justice department blocked mr. gore interest telling us, that's the committee, the reason why he walked it over. mr. gore said he did not show the memo to anyone else at the justice department. mr. secretary, do you know that -- what mr. earthmeyer's memo and note said about the citizenship question? >> i do not know as i sit here. >> keep your voice up. >> i do not know as i sit here what the memo said. >> did you direct him to do it? >> i don't know -- >> he's your council -- >> i'm sorry. >> did you direct him to do the memo and walk it over because you were concerned about e-mail? >> i do not have any recollection of that as i sit
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here. >> mr. secretary, so far the committee has been unable to get a copy of these documents despite multiple requests and interviews with your staff and with the department of justice staff. we need your full commitment with these specific communications we'll get cooperation to get to the facts otherwise it's hard for us not to conclude you're at the very least obfuscating your role in what you said to this committee. will you commit to giving it all to us and letting your counsel clear the way to get direct answers to our questions? >> i will certainly address the question to my staff and counsel, to the degree that this is involved in pending litigation there may be problems. >> with all due respect, you're a cabinet member. the buck stops with you. will you specifically individually in front of this
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house committee under oath promise to cooperate with us and get us the information. you not your staff. >> we already have -- >> yes or no, mr. secretary. >> sorry i can't answer yes or no. >> are you responsible, you? >> i will discuss it with counsel and with my staff and we will give you a prompt response. >> i will yield the balance of my time to the chair. >> when can we expect that response? >> i'm sorry, sir? >> you just said that you would give us a response. you said you would consult with your staff and give us a response with regard to -- >> yes. after the hearing. sir. >> all right. >> does that mean today? >> i'll discuss it with them. i don't know how long it will take them to come up with a response. >> we would like to have an
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answer as soon as possible if you don't mind. >> i understand. i will take it up with my staff. >> very well. >> thank you, mr. chair. thank you. i'm over here, mr. secretary, to your left. thank you, mr. secretary for being here today. i just want to say kind of at the outset i find this whole issue fascinating. we've already heard in this committee time and time again that historically in this country even under democratic presidents the census has asked the question whether you are a citizen or not. why would we as the government of the united states not want that information. it's a very legitimate question to ask. i don't understand how that's necessarily a problem procedurally, mr. secretary, isn't it true that this issue and related issues as you previously testified are currently before the u.s. supreme court in the department of commerce versus the state of new york? >> yes. yes, sir. the issue is before the supreme court and it's also pending in a couple lower courts at this
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time. >> and isn't it also true on october 22nd, 2018, the supreme court issued a stay granting the administration's request to halt your deposition as requested by the plaintiffs? >> that is correct, sir. >> so the u.s. supreme court has stayed your deposition. yet, we are here today deposing you understand oath where the rules of evidence in a civil procedure do not apply, is that correct? >> i am here voluntarily and i am here under oath today, yes, sir. >> the very issue before the court is to your intent on placing this question on the form and all of mr. cummings' questions and the previous member's questions were trying to illicit answers to those questions before the court, is that correct? >> yes, sir. that is. >> i would like to continue to read in the concurg opinion. in their conquering opinion justice gorsuch and justice thomas abandoned the lower court's ruling that secretary ross demonstrated bad faith in deciding to reinstate a citizenship question to the census stating but there's
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nothing unusual about a new cabinet secretary coming to office and [ inaudible ] a different policy direction. soliciting support from other agencies to bolster his views disagreeing with staff or cutting through red tape. some people may disagree with the policy or process but until now this much has never been thought enough to justify a claim of bad faith and launch an inquisition into a cabinet secretary's motives. it goes on to say on page 3 it stays secretary ross' deposition after weighing among other things the likelihood of review in the injury that could occur without a stay. here we are questioning you under oath today. it says respectfully i would take the next logical step and stay all extra record discovery pending our review and state because today's order technically leaves the plaintiffs able to pursue much of the extra record discovery they seek it's conceivable they might withdraw their request to depose secretary ross try to persuade the trial court to
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proceed quickly to trial on the basis of the remaining extra record evidence that they can asummable. extra record evidence. mr. secretary would it be your opinion this exercise today by chairman cummings and the democrats is assisting the plaintiffs in their extra record evidence by putting you under oath under penalty of per jury asking you the very questions i'm sure the plaintiffs in this case would like to ask you in a deposition? >> thank you for that question. i can't judge what might be chairman cummings' motivation. he has been very courteous to me and i'm trying to be very courteous to him in return. >> did you specifically request to delay your testimony today pending the supreme courts case? >> i'm sorry, could you repeat the question, sir? >> didn't you specifically request to delay your testimony today until the conclusion of the supreme court case on this very issue? >> we have requested a delay chairman cummings said he was not prepared to give a delay and
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therefore i'm here voluntarily. >> do you have any opine as to why the chair doesn't want to wait pending a supreme court decision and wanted you to testify here today? >> well, again, sir, i can't guess what might be in chairman cummings' mind, but i am here voluntarily and i'll do the best i can. >> i thank you for being here. i got two minutes but i want to make a couple statements. allowing secretary ross to testify before a congressional committee where rules of evidence and civil procedure do not apply the democrats are allowing a probative injury a question at the crux of the supreme court case and holding this hearing the committee democrats have run afoul of the supreme court's stay of secretary ross's deposition that the justices have yet to even hear oral arguments on and i would ask in my remaining question and direct a question to the chair, as to has there been any communication by the plaintiffs' lawyers in this case to both the chairman or your
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staff or any other members of this committee directing or asking specific questions to be asked on the record? >> would you repeat that, i'm sorry. >> has there been -- >> i'll give you time to repeat it. go ahead. >> i was just -- my staff was just reminding me that we had postponed this several times so i was getting the dates straight. they were letting me know that secretaries ross picked this date. but go ahead. >> that makes sense because the october stay was october -- or the stay was october 22nd. my question was, since we're here and the secretary is under oath has there been any communication, any communication between the plaintiffs lawyers or any of the plaintiffs as it relates to the chair or staff in asking specific questions of the witness? >> no. >> mr. chairman, point of information. >> yes. >> the record of this hearing
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cannot be used by the court in its decision because this hearing and what happens in this hearing is not a part of the record of the cases that are now before the federal courts. >> correct. >> point of clarification. i'm not sure that the gentlewoman's statement is correct. >> let me recognize you. >> my apology, mr. chairman. >> i recognize the gentleman. >> i thank the chairman. i'm not sure that the context of the gentlewoman's statement is as accurate because we are putting things in the congressional record and certainly previous supreme courts have been able to use documents -- >> mr. chairman -- >> could i respond? >> i'm going to -- i'm going to let you respond and then we want to move on to questions. go ahead. >> these cases are being appealed to the supreme court. they are not in the record of the court's below the supreme
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court can only look at what is in the record that has been brought in the courts below. that is why i have objected to the member's objection. >> now i recognize i recognize gentle lady from the district of colombia. >> mr. chairman, i appreciate this hearing. i have introduced a bill to bar a citizenship question on the census, but i am interested, secretary ross and the apparent increased cost, we have a budget before us with many reductions because of the increase in the deficit, for example. i'm not going to speak about the deterrent effect on residents. i'm interested in the cost, and i do want -- the constitution,
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so for the constitutional ifisti note that part of the constitution. secretary ross, i'm going to quote from a memo announcing your decision. a significantly lower response rate by non-citizens would reduce the accuracy of the census and increased cost for non-response follow up operations. that is a quote from you, is that not correct? from your memo? >> is there a question, ma'am? >> it is, sir. >> what is the question? >> i just quoted an announcement of your decision and the date is march 26, 2018.
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a significantly low response rate by non-citizens would reduce the accuracy of the census and increased cost for non-response follow-up operations. that's a quote, sir. i just want to make sure we're not talking about the same thing. >> could you tell me what page of the memo -- >> i can only tell you if it's march 26, 2018. so i'm not going to spend my time. i'm assuming that this quote is correct because it is a quote now on january 19th of last year, your own census bureau chief sends you a memo. it contained a technical analysis regarding adding citizenship and here i am giving you what your own chief scientist and that's mr. abboud
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that calculated what they call a conservative estimate of the increase because you have to do non-response follow-up since many people would not answer the question door to door or phone follow up, for example. he found that your own chief scientist found that the cost is approximately $27.5 million. by this time, i assume that you, mr. ross, or the census bureau have calculated the addition, the citizenship question to taxpayers if it were included in the census. what is that number, please, sir? what is your number for how much it would be -- for how much in dollars and cents would be added?
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>> the chief scientist dr. abboud of the census department testified under oath as follows -- i'm on two. may i please put up a chart so that people can see it, chairman? >> no problem. >> it's demo 2. >> yeah. this is the chart that i'm referring to. i'd like to read from it, if i may. >> mr. chairman -- >> mr. chairman -- >> no credible quantitative evidence that the addition of the citizenship question will affect the accuracy of the count. that's a statement that was made under oath by dr. abboud, the chief scientist of the census
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bureau. >> the information we have is that that quote is taken entirely out of context. the memo also says that adding the citizen question is very costly and harms the quality of the census count and was used -- and would use substantially less accuracy citizenship status area that are available from administrative records. >> the young lady's time has expired and you may respond. >> i have nothing to say, sir. >> very well. >> miss fox? >> thank you, mr. chairman. secretary ross. thank you very much for being here today. we appreciate it. i think we've heard it here enough, but i'll say it again. the question's not new. it's been asked before and it's been appropriate, mr. secretary,
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i've been interested in this issue since the last census in 2010. in fact, in 2009 i introduced a bill to require citizen be asked on the 2010 census and every census thereafter. if congress had enacted my bill you wouldn't have been put in the position to answer the citizenship question. it would already be part of the census. we're in the midst of a national debate on immigration. there are millions of people living in this country illegally who are counted the same. the same as u.s. citizens and people who followed our laws and entered our country legally. the department of homeland security has great data in the number of naturalized u.s. citizens. we have this accurate data because these folks followed the rules and entered our country the right, legal way and the fact is that we don't have reliable data on illegal immigration in this country. estimates by dhs seem out of date at the moment they were released and the most recent
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estimates from dhs are from 2015. even dhs relies heavily on census data. mr. secretary, my point is we must ask the citizenship question having yet the data we need to have a full and honest debate about immigration in this country. we don't ask the citizen question we're all debating without knowing the facts. mr. secretary, in your opinion, how can the citizenship question better inform the debate over immigration? >> the census question will not ask about legal status of the respondent. it simply asks about the factual status, citizen or not, and some questions about where they came from. there's nothing in the census data that can be used by enforcement authorities for immigration or for any other purpose.
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under title 13, every one of the census who has access to the data has taken a lifetime oath not to reveal that information to anyone outside, the detailed, private information. consequently, and anyone who violates that is subject to years in prison and large fines. so it's a very serious, very important factor of the census that the individual data will be used for any other purpose other than the aggregations that we provide externally. so this is not a tool as such for immigration. our job is simply to count the people whether citizen or not, and it is not our job to become involved with any other function
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of government. i'm sorry that it takes so long to answer, but it's a very important question and it's very important that people in the country be aware that this is a sacred oath, their privacy will not be violated by the census bureau and there would be extreme punishments if people did not do so. so i hope that answers the question right there. >> no apology necessary, mr. secretary. we need to get the facts on the table, and mr. chairman, i yield the remainder of my time to my colleague from north carolina, mr. meadows. >> i thank the gentle woman for yielding. mr. secretary, i want to follow up on something that my colleague from north carolina was talking about because you made an important distinction, asking the citizenship question on the census will not provide
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any data to whether they're here illegally or not, is that correct? >> that is correct, sir. we are not asking legal status of people whether citizens or not. >> in fact, a large percentage of those people who may check that they're not citizens will be here legally because they've either got a green card or some other legal means of being here in the united states, is that correct? >> that's correct. they could be here on a visa or on any variety of things. the purpose of the census is not as a tool for enforcement of the immigration laws. the census is simply to provide aggregated data. >> i yield back. i thank the gentlewoman for yielding. >> mr. craig? >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. secretary, on march the 20th, 2018, you testified in front of a subcommittee of the house