WASHINGTON – A Trump administration attorney said Monday that the numbers used for deciding how many congressional seats each state gets won’t be ready until February, putting in jeopardy an effort by President Donald Trump to exclude people in the country illegally from those figures.
The U.S. Census Bureau has found new irregularities in the head count data that determines congressional seat allocations and the distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal spending each year, John Coghlan, a deputy assistant Attorney General, said during a court hearing.
Not having the apportionment numbers finished before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20 will jeopardize an effort by Trump to exclude people in the country illegally from the apportionment count since the numbers will be delivered under the administration of Biden, who opposes the effort.
The numbers could be pushed back even later in February from the expected Feb. 9 date, Coghlan said.
“It’s a continuously moving target,” he said.
Under federal law, the Census Bureau is required to turn in the numbers used for allocating congressional seats by Dec. 31, but the bureau announced last week that the numbers wouldn’t be ready. At the time, the Census Bureau said it would finish the apportionment numbers in early 2021, as close to the end-of-year deadline as possible.
The new February date was made public during a hearing for a federal lawsuit in San Jose, California.
The California lawsuit was originally brought by a coalition of municipalities and advocacy groups that had sued the Trump administration in order to stop the census from ending early out of concerns that a shortened head count would cause minority communities to be undercounted. The coalition of municipalities and advocacy groups currently is seeking data and documents to help assess the accuracy of the 2020 census.