tv Commerce Secretary Ross Testifies on 2020 Census CSPAN April 23, 2019 10:08am-11:13am EDT
and they will look at this question of what exactly title vii protects. robert barnes, supreme court reporter with the washington post, thank you. last month commerce secretary wilbur ross testified on the 20 $.20 a citizenship western being taken up by the supreme court this morning. congressman elijah cummings of maryland chairs the house oversight committee. we will show the hearing beginning with his opening statements. >> we will hear from secretary of commerce the honorable wilbur ross about preparations for the 2020 census. ourconstitution requires government to conduct a census every 10 years. the constitution also requires person the every
latest census begins next year and significant challenges have been raised by the government accountability office either about whether we will be ready. today's hearing will be our andt of several this year we will look to our able subcommittee on civil rights and civil liberties headed up by the honorable jamie raskin to follow-up with additional hearings. we're to make sure tracking progress. highlighting small problems before they become large problems. that outstanding recommendations are being implemented effectively and efficiently.
today we'll examine secretary ross's decision to add a new citizenship question after up, at thesten census bureau warned and i quote quality ofarms the the census count." questions on whether secretary ross was truthful when he testified before congress on multiple occasions and whether he added the citizenship question because the department of justice requested it. on marchd gentlemen,
20 2018 secretary ross testified and i quote " we are responding solely to the department of justice's request." he repeated the same claim on march 22 and then he did it again on may 10. testifiedetary ross new documents showed he was toaged in a secret campaign add the citizenship question afterhe very first days he arrived at the department of commerce. these documents showed he was not merely responding to a request from another agency. washe contrary he
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 including steve bannon and the jeff sessions. these are the facts. they are not in dispute. judges have already struck down the citizenship question and they issue stinging decisions finding that secretary ross violated, i did not say it federal judges said it, violated federal law and the united states constitution.
they found that his claim of merely responding to a request from the department of justice was a pretext and a false one. i did not say that, the judges said that. pretextddress that directly. others in the and 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 did not know thene who truly believes trump administration is interested in enhancing the voting rights act. this administration has done everything in its power to suppress the vote, not to help people exercise their rights to vote.
second, i've championed voting rights all of my adult life. the voting rights act is an essential tool. it is what underpins our democracy. law the was signed into voting rights act enforcement is never used -- has never used citizenship data from every u.s. household. not once. third, the judges who examined this evidence held that the was a rights act claim fake justification for the citizenship question. i did not say it, they said it. one judge ruled that secretary quote, this is what
they said about secretary ross, a judge. concealedid quote " its true basis rather than explaining it." the key question we will ask secretary ross today is, what was he hiding from the congress? what is the real reason that the 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 gordon -- who was involved in drafting the request for citizenship question.
formertted that a transition fema official provided him on initial draft of a letter from the department of justice asking that a citizenship question be added. we have summarized this and other information from his interview in a supplemental memo that i am providing to members this morning. throughout this entire process the trump administration has obstructed and delayed our investigation. both of the department of commerce and the department of justice have withheld key documents and refused to answer legitimate questions. ross and i exchanged several letters last 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 litigation going on. and with thathat i'm very pleased to have the secretary stand, please. good morning, chairman cummings. rep. cummings: i'm going to swear you in first. i apologize. thank you very much. swear and affirm the testimony you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth
and nothing but the truth so help you god? thank you very much. let the record show the witness answered in the affirmative and you may be seated and you may proceed. sec. ross: good morning, chairman cummings. ranking member jordan and members of the committee. thank you for inviting me to testify. i would also think the chairman hearing's scope so my staff can produce documents beyond the approximately 8700 already provided. i appreciate your agreement that i can submit written answers to questions about my personal finances after the hearing for the record. questions about i welcomeensus and
the opportunity to discuss that topic today. let me be clear at the outset. the department of commerce is fully committed to administer ring as complete and accurate of a census as we can. we intend to try to count every we are taking all necessary actions to do so. office in 2017 i immediately began a deep dive into oversight of the decennial census. there was significant work to do preparing for the hiring and trading of more than 450,000 part-time temporary census workers working with outside that thee concluded prior administration underestimated the budget
billion, about 25%. and congress accepted our findings. 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 speciallyg campaign designed to reach hard to count communities and on the 2020 decennial census people will be in 12o respond non-english languages. five more than in 2010. we started our community a yearship program
earlier relative to the census than last time. 1500 are already more than state, tribal and local governments helping us, double what the census had in 2010. we will do our best to collect more complete data. 26 2018 i decided to reinstitute a citizenship question on the 2020 decennial census. pursuant to the statutory authority given to me by congress. my reasoning is explained in my .arch 26, 2018 decision memo it is available on the department of commerce website. questions about citizenship or
country of birth or both were asked as part on all but one u.s. to send neil census for 180 year from 1820 two the 2000. indeed the citizenship question continues to be asked every year by the census bureau on the american community survey. it is a survey distributed annually to about 2.64% of the american population. decision wemarch 26 understood that the department might want a citizenship question reinstated on the dissenting all census.
there is no former process for adding questions to the decennial census. agencies had 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 dojirming whether or not was going to ask for reinstatement of the question. i wanted to make sure that we had enough time to adequately thatder any formal request doj might make. on december 12 2017
doj made a formal written request that the census bureau reinstate the citizenship question on the decennial census. sought census block level citizenship data for use in voting rights act enforcement. in response the census bureau a programmatic review process to consider meeting doj's request. had discussions with external and holders -- stakeholders including chairman pelosi and chairman cummings, both of whom oppose the idea.
we evaluated thousands of pages of analysis including written submissions by other members of this committee. our list of dissenting all census questions the march 31, 2018 statutory deadline. doj'sing receipt of letter and during our review the census bureau officials datanized that current acs did not meet doj's request for census block level data. analysis alsoeau showed that when noncitizens respond to the acs question on citizenship they respond incorrectly approximately 30% of the time.
memo iarch 26 decision described more details of the decision-making process in the alternatives we considered to reinstating the citizenship question. aspects of, certain this issue are in litigation before the supreme court and other courts. to answering as many of your questions as i can. that weo be clear intended 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. sec. ross: -- rep. cummings: thank you very much, i recognize myself are some 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. we have obtained documents showing that you are working to add the citizenship question from your very first days at the commerce department. ross, our interest is getting into the truth. once we get into it we will defend it. , i give a witness a chance to come clean to tell the truth and clarify their previous testimony 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 documents that have come to life do you wish to withdraw your previous testimony regarding your decision to add the citizenship question and that it was based, and i solely" on the request from the department of justice? for addingmy reasons arecitizenship question described in detail in the march .6, 2018 decision memo after we received the department of justice letter on december 12 week, name of commerce
department myself and the census a detailed anded thorough process to consider that west. that is what we were responding to. i had been told -- if you have detailed questions about the testimony we can get into them later on. -- a lot hasm said been said in this committee. i'm not trying to trip you up i'm trying to make sure the committee is clear. i think it is very important. you one moreask time that i'm going to leave it alone. , in light of all these documents that have come to light you do not wish to
withdraw your previous testimony? is that what you are saying? sec. ross: i testified truthfully to the best of my ability in response to my understanding of what the questions were. rep. cummings: you understand that there are documents that on their face aim to contradict -- contradict what you are saying? welcome the opportunity to get into the individual documents whenever you wish. rep. cummings: on march the 10th days after you took office, your staffer sent you question onout your the census. his email explained that undocumented immigrants -- not included in the
census. mr. secretary, this was nine letterbefore you got any from the justice department, is that right? sec. ross: that is correct as to the timing. was early on in the administration and i wanted to understand lots of questions answers. one of the questions was that one and i received an answer to it. rep. cummings: it is your testimony today that you -- your interest in the censorship question had nothing to do with counting undocumented immigrants for enforcement purposes? sec. ross: no sir it did not. i was simply seeking information. if you look at my emails during that period you will find lots of other questions and if you look at records of my conversations with members of the department you will find
lots of questions through this day seeking further information, seeking clarification, seeking details, seeking things i was unsure of. rep. cummings: speaking of seeking details, and early april 2017 you got a call from steve bannon about a citizenship .uestion that was months before the department of justice sent this letter, is that correct? sec. ross: yes sir. rep. cummings: is it your testimony that your conversation with mr. bannon had nothing to do with efforts to pursue the citizenship question? stephen bannon called with a simple request, asking if i would take a call from kris kobach. i agreed to that request as a courtesy.
shortly thereafter possibly the next day i did have a conversation with kris kobach. -- yoummings: mr. bannon spoke to mr. kobach on july 14, 2017, is that correct? rep. cummings: i don't remember the -- sec. ross: i don't remember the date but sometime around that point in time. rep. cummings: you spoke to him on the july the 14th of 2017. mr. kobach emailed you and asked you to add the citizenship question. this is what mr. kobach wrote to you. he said he wanted it added " problem was a quote
that aliens who do not actively reside in the united states are still counted for congressional enforcement purposes ." that was several months before any letter from the justice department, is that correct? it. cummings: -- sec. ross: is correct that that was before the census letter but it is also correct that i rejected the question mr. kovac wanted to ask. rep. cummings: you had nothing in your emails or phone calls with mr. kobach had nothing to do with your efforts to push the citizenship question? i have no control over what kris kobach or anyone else but it emails sent to me. as we evaluate the truth we often look to see whether the testimony is corroborated by documents. on their faces
show the reason you have given to us for adding the citizenship question is a pretext. in 2017 your staff hand-delivered a secret memo and handwritten note about the citizenship question to the department of justice. did the secret memo or note described the real reason you wanted to add the citizenship question? sec. ross: i would like to correct the record. rep. cummings: please do. sec. ross: i don't believe there is anything in evidence that my staff delivered a message of that sort to the justice department. rep. cummings: that is why we need to see the documents. so we can get to the truth. did you want to say something?
sec. ross: what i would like to ask is, if you feel you have a document of that sort would you oblige me to show it to me? rep. cummings: i promise i will do that. we have been trying to get certain documents for months and we simply requested in advance of this hearing. why have you not provided documents to the committee? sec. ross: i did not hear that question. rep. cummings: why have you not provided the document to the committee? sec. ross: we have provided 8700 documents already. rep. cummings:. this particular document. -- not this can't particular document. sec. ross: i can't talk to a specific a document. i say we can provide specific documents supplemental he.
i will supplement them with my staff after the hearing. -- rep. cummings: when we had a transcribed interview with mr. gore he said mr. osa meyer presented it to him. my time is expired. >> mr. secretary, over here. there seems to be some indication that there were nefarious purposes for concluding this particular question -- including this
particular question on the census. do you believe 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 a reason to believe he had nefarious purposes in including the question. do you have any knowledge of a democratic president who had nefarious purposes in mind when they included the census question -- the citizenship question on previous census? i am sure there were but i've not approach approached this as a partisan matter. toave not tried differentiate whether there is a democratic president or republican president. you are approaching this from
a census point of view to get an accurate count for the united states of america. is that your sworn testimony? sec. ross: yes sir, as explained in the decision memo of march 26 2018. we -- so that we could have block level census data. >> let me go further. assume team, who i would 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? >> we worked very hard to make sure this is the best system we can possibly delivered. i explained earlier in my prepared remarks that we have
budget3.2 billion to the and we got the concurrence of the omp and ultimately a congress to add the lifecycle cost. a various purpose, surely would have not added $3.2 billion to the budget for the census. and the specific things we have done to improve it. we were using far more administrative records that have ever been the case before. we areoned briefly that adding many records from the state and local levels about children area we now have access for the first time ever to the records, snap records, and the temp records for 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 specialist than had ever been the case before. partnerships are important because they are trusted in thenstitutions community that will collaborate with us and encouraging people to understand why it is important to complete the census and their privacy will be maintained. our advertising program will emphasize both themes. we will have advertising available in multiple languages.
e will also have census documents available in 12 languages versus the five others in english that were available before. we have done many more things, a couple of which that come readily to mind, we have provided for those who wish to do so the ability to respond to the census by internet. they are not required to fill out forms or do anything of that sort. they still can respond by telephone if they want. they are not required to do so. the gentleman's time has expired. mr. chairman, you had 10 minutes i and the opening questioner. rep. cummings: remember, i had an extra five minutes that i had
reserved and i used it. a nine minute opening statement and a 10 minute opening question around. all he is asking for is one more question. rep. cummings: one question. clear,secretary, to be is it correct that you have taken extraordinary measures to not only counts the number of people accurately but to expand the way that we do that that is unparalleled in the history of the census. sec. ross: that is correct. we have increased the ways the ways they can respond and the advertising budget. we have increased the community --reach and complete increase the census complete count committees and states. all kinds of things that we will think of to make sure we have the best census possible. rep. cummings: thank you very
much. >> mr. secretary i want to narrow in on specific communication between your department and the department of justice that the chairman was alluding to. 2017 earl comes that, a senior official at the department of commerce female deal about a memo and he said pere from you -- from him " your request here is a draft memo on the citizenship question that james in the office of general counsel prepared and i mr. secretary, why did you request a memo on citizenship question in august of 2017? if you had the memo it would help a refresh my recollection. >> in our efforts to get this information your counsel has made it more difficult.
you don't remember the request? sec. ross: i don't remember the details of any memo. >> do your member it at all? you don't remember it at all? sec. ross: you post a very broad question to me. >> it is very specific and this is very important. this is very specific and very important as to what you claim as your defense. we would appreciate as much information from you as possible. last week committee staff interviewed john gore, the senior doj political appointee in charge of drafting request letter. he said in december of 2017 he received a call from your to discuss the citizenship question. after the call he hand-delivered a memo and a handwritten note about citizenship questions to
mr. gore's office. he did not email it, he had someone walk it over. walkingined why he was the justice department blocked mr. gore from telling us, the committee, the reason why he walked it over. he did not show the memo to anyone else at the justice department. mr. secretary, do you know what the memo said about the citizenship question? sec. ross: i do not know as i sit here. rep. cummings: keep your voice up. sec. ross: i do not know what the memo said. >> did you direct them to do it? did you direct him to do the memo and walk it over because you are concerned about email? sec. ross: i do not have any recollection of that. as i sit here. so far the committee has been unable to get a copy of these
documents despite multiple requests. and interviews with your staff and the department of justice staff. we need your full commit with the specific communications that we will get cooperation to get to the facts otherwise it is hard for us not to conclude that you are at the very least opposite in your role in what you said in front of 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? certainly i will address the question to my staff and my counsel to the degree that this is involved in pending litigation there may be problems. >> mr. secretary you are a cabinet minister, the buck stops with you. will you specifically individually in front of this house committee, under oath, promised to cooperate with us and get us the information? you, not your staff?
yes or no mr. secretary. sec. ross: i cannot answer it yes or no. >> are you responsible, you? will discuss it with counsel and my staff and we will give you a prompt response. >> i would yield the balance of my time. >> when can we expect that response? you just said he would give us a response and you would consult with your staff and give us a response with regard to -- sec. ross: after the hearing. rep. cummings: does that mean today? sec. ross: i will discuss it with them. i don't know how long it will take them to come up with their response. we would like to have an answer as soon as possible if you don't mind. we have been waiting for a while. mr. still be --
>> thank you, mr. chair. i over here, mr. secretary. thank you for being here today. at the outset i find this whole issue fascinating. thisve already heard of committee time and time again the historically in this country even under democratic presidents a census has asked a question of whether you are a citizen. why would the government of the united states not want that information? it is a legitimate question and i don't understand how that is necessarily a problem procedurally. mr. secretary, isn't it true that this issue and related issues are currently before the u.s. supreme court and the department of -- sec. ross: the issue is before the supreme court and is pending in a couple of lower courts at this time. onisn't it also true that october 22, 2018 the supreme court issued a stay granting the
administration's request to halt your deposition. >> that is correct, sir. collect the u.s. supreme court has stayed your deposition and we are here today to posing you under oath where the rules of evidence and civil procedure do not apply, is that correct? sec. ross: i am here voluntarily and under oath. placing thist on question on the form and all of the questions were directly trying to elicit answers to the questions before the court, is that correct? sec. ross: yes sir. >> i would like to continue to read into the concurring opinion. a lower court ruling that secretary ross devastated bad faith in trying to reinstate the but therep question, is nothing unusual about a new cabinet secretary coming to office and trying to favor a different policy direction.
support for other agencies to bolster the views. cutting through red tape. this is not enough to claim -- justify a claim of bad faith and luncheon in position into a cabinet secretary's motives. it stays secretary ross's deposition after weighing the likelihood of review and entry that could occur without a stay. i would take say " the next logical step and stay all extra record discovery pending a review. because today's order leaves the plaintiffs able to pursue the records recovery they seek they might recall -- trying to persuade the pro-court to proceed quickly to trial on the basis of the remaining extra record evidence they can assemble. extra record evidence.
would it be your opinion that this exercise by chairman cummings and the democrats is assisting the plaintiffs in their extra records evidence by putting you under oath under penalty of perjury and asking you the very questions that i'm sure the plaintiffs in this case would like to ask you in the deposition? sec. ross: thank you for the question. i cannot judge what might be chairman cummings's motivation. courteous too be him in return. >> did you request to delay your testimony pending the supreme court case? sec. ross: could you repeat the question? >> didn't you specifically request to delay your testimony today in till the conclusion of the supreme court case on this issue? sec. ross: we had requested a delay and chairman cummings said he was not prepared to give a delay and their or i'm here voluntarily. be you know why the chair
doesn't want to wait pending a supreme court decision? cannotss: again sir i guess what might be in chairman cummings mind but i am here voluntarily and i will do the best i can. i want to couple statements. by allowing secretary ross to theify before a committee democrats are allowing a prolonged inquiry into a question that is in the crux of a supreme court case. in holding this hearing democrats have run afoul of the supreme court stay of secretary ross's deposition and pollution of the evidentiary record of the case that judges have not heard oral arguments on. i would direct the question to the chair as has there been any communication by the plaintiffs lawyers in this case to vote the chairman or your staff or any members of this committee directly or asking specific questions to be asked on the
record. rep. cummings: would you repeat that? i will give you time. my staff was reminding me we had postponed this several times. i was getting the dates straight. they were letting me know that secretary ross picked this date. go ahead. sense because the stay was october 22. my question was, since we are here in the secretary under oath , has there been any communication between the plaintiff's lawyers and the plane -- or any of the plaintiff as a relates to the chair or staff and asking specific questions of the witness. mr. chairman, point of information. the record of this hearing cannot be used by the court in 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 court. >> point of clarification. i am not sure the statement is correct. rep. cummings: first of all that it is you. i recognize the gentleman. i am not sure the context of the gentlewoman's statement is accurate. we are putting things in the congressional record and certainly previous supreme court's have been able to use -- rep. cummings: i'm going to let you respond and we will move on. >> these cases are being appealed to the supreme court. they are not in the record of cancourt, the supreme court only look at what is in the record that has been brought in the court. tot is why i have objected
the objection. now i recognize the gentlelady from the district of columbia. mr. chairman, i appreciate this hearing. i have introduced a bill to bar a citizenship question on the senses. interested in the apparent increased cost, we have a budget before us with many reductions -- i'm of the increase not going to speak of a -- i'mnt effect on interested in the cost and i do want to be clear that the ,onstitution says all persons with indians not counted, for the strict constitutionalist in the room in the committee i note
that part of the constitution. secretary ross, i am going to quote from a memo announcing your decision. a significantly lower response rate by noncitizens would reduce the accuracy of the dissenting also insists and increase costs for nonresponse follow-up operations. that is a quote from you, is that accurate? sec. ross: is there a question? what is the question? an announcement of your decision and the date is march 26 2018. a significantly lower response rate by noncitizens would reduce the accuracy of the dissenting
also as and increased cost for nonresponse follow-up operations. that is a quote. i want to make sure we are talking about the same thing. sec. ross: can you tell me what page of the memo? >> march 26, 2018. i'm not going to spend my time -- i'm assuming this quote is correct because it is a quote. yournuary 19 of last year own census bureau chief scientist sent you a memo, it contained a technical analysis regarding adding citizenship and here i am giving you what your own chief -- they calculated what they called a conservative estimate of the increase because you have to do nonresponse
follow-up. since many people would not answer the question door-to-door , or on the phone for example. he found that your own chief a cost offound approximately $27.5 million. youhis time i assume that or the census bureau have of alated the addition citizenship question would add to taxpayers if it were included in this census, what is that number? muchis your number for how in dollars and cents would be added? sec. ross: the chief scientist, dr. abowd, of the census
department, testified under oath as follows. may i please put up a chart so that people can see it? it is demo 2. this is the chart that i'm referring to. i would like to read from it if i may. rep. norton: mr. chairman -- sec. ross: no quantitative evidence that the addition of a citizenship question will affect the accuracy of the count. that is a statement that was made under oath by dr. abowd, the chief scientist of the census bureau. rep. norton: the information we have is that that quote is taken entirely out of context.
the memo also says that adding the citizenship question is very costly, harms the quality of the census count, and would use substantially less accurate citizenship status data than are available from administrative records. rep. cummings: gentlelady's time has expired. you may respond, though. sec. ross: i have nothing to say, sir. rep. cummings: ms. foxx. rep. foxx: secretary ross, thank you for being here today. we appreciate it. i think we have heard enough. the question is not new, we have heard it before. i have been interested in this issue since the last decennial census in 2010.
in 2009, i introduced a question for citizenship to be added. if congress had enacted my bill, you wouldn't be put in a position to reinstate the citizenship question. it would already be part of the census. we are in the midst of a national debate on immigration. there are millions of people who live in this country illegally who are counted the same as u.s. citizens and people who followed our laws and entered the country legally. the department of homeland security has great data on legal immigration and the number of naturalized u.s. citizens. we have this information because people followed the rules and entered the right, legal way. the fact is that we don't have reliable data on illegal immigration. estimates by dhs seem out of date the moment they are released. the most recent estimates by dhs are from 2015. even dhs relies on census data.
secretary, my point is, we must ask the citizenship question so we can get the data we need to have a full and honest debate about immigration in this country. if we don't ask the citizenship question, we are all debating without knowing the facts. mr. secretary, in your opinion, how can the citizenship question better inform the debate over immigration? sec. ross: 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 is nothing in the census data that can be used by enforcement authorities for immigration or for any other purpose. under title 13, everyone at the census who has access to the data has taken a lifetime of not
to reveal that information to anyone outside. the detailed, private information. consequently, anyone who violates that is subject to years in prison and large fines. it is a very serious, very important factor of the census that no one's 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 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 to 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. i hope that answers the question. rep. foxx: we need to get the facts on the table. no apology necessary, mr. secretary. mr. chairman, i yield the remainder of my time to my colleague from north carolina, mr. meadows. rep. meadows: i want to follow up on something that my colleague from north carolina was talking about. you made an important distinction. asking the citizenship question on the census will not provide any data to whether they are here illegally or not. is that correct? sec. ross: that is correct.
we are not asking legal status of people. citizens or not. rep. meadows: in fact, a large percentage of those people who may check that they are not citizens will be here legally because they have either got a green card or some other legal means of being here. is that correct? sec. ross: they could be here on a visa, any variety of things. the purpose of the census is not as a tool for enforcement of the immigration laws. the purpose of the census simply to provide aggregated data. chairman cummings: mr. secretary, on march 20, 2018, you testified in front of a subcommittee of the house appropriations committee and here's what you said. sec. ross: we are responding solely to the department of justice's request, not to any
campaign request, not to any political party request. rep. clay: two days later, you testified before the house ways and means committee, and here's what you said. sec. ross: the department of justice initiated the request for the inclusion of the citizenship question. rep. clay: on may 10, you testified in front of the senate appropriations committee and here's what you said then. sec. ross: well, the justice department is the one who made the requests of us. rep. clay: now, i would like to talk about what you did not tell
congress. you wrote the following email to your staff on may 2, 2017. you wrote, and i quote, "i am mystified why nothing has been done in response to my months-old request that we include the citizenship question. why not?" end of quote. so you requested the addition of the citizenship question prior to may of 2017, correct? sec. ross: no. what i was referring to is that i was frustrated that i had not gotten an answer to the question, "would the department of justice formally request the question to be reinstituted or ?"uld they not that's what i had in my mind.
rep. clay: wait a minute. this is more than seven months before doj sent this letter in december of 2017. correct? sec. ross: that was part of my frustration. i had been seeking to get clarification of what was the interest, if any, in the department of justice with the question. the census has to be done on a specific day, starting on a specific day in a specific year, and there were also congressional -- rep. clay: i'm well aware of that. no, i have the time. i'm well aware of that because in 2010, i oversaw that census. when you testified last year, you failed to mention any of this. is that correct? sec. ross: what was contained in the decision memo of march 26, 2018, was the basis for the decision. rep. clay: mr. secretary, you wrote to the committee a few
months ago the reason that you did not mention all of your efforts to add a citizenship question before doj letter was because these efforts were merely, and i quote, "informal and hypothetical discussions." with all due respect, that explanation that does not pass the laugh test. sec. ross: those are the facts. i'm sorry that you are dissatisfied. rep. clay: you testified three times and each time, you withheld critical information that congress needed to oversee preparations for the 2020 census. mr. secretary, will you take responsibility today for misleading congress, whether intentionally or not, about the process you followed to add the citizenship question to the 2020 census?
sec. ross: i have never intentionally misled congress or intentionally said anything incorrect under oath. rep. clay: you lied to congress , you misled the american people, and you are complicit in the trump administration's growingto suppress the political power of the nonwhite population. you have already done great harm to the census of 2020, you have zero credibility, and you should, in my opinion, resign. i yield back. sec. ross: is there a question in that, sir? mr. chairman, we've been at this now for somewhat more than an hour. will the committee indulge me in taking a break? rep. cummings: we will recess for 10 minutes.
sec. ross: thank you, mr. chairman. rep. cummings: thank you very much. [gavel] at 7:00 p.m. eastern, live coverage from mount vernon talking about c-span's new book. noted historians rank america's best and worst chief executives. saturday at 2:30 p.m. eastern, book tv has live coverage from the museum with historians talking about the president. noted historians rank america's chief executives. saturday at 2:30 p.m. eastern on c-span two from the museum. >> today, the chair of the white house council of