House Approves Amendment Barring White House Oversight of Census

Posted June 18, 2009 at 1:01pm

Bucking leadership, dozens of House Democrats voted with Republicans on Thursday to prohibit the Census Bureau from falling directly under the Executive Office of the President.

By a 262-162 vote, lawmakers approved an amendment by Republican Rep. Dan Burton (Ind.) to prevent the Census Bureau or related Commerce Department employees from reporting directly to the president. The provision is now part of the $64.3 billion Commerce-Justice-science appropriations bill.

While there are no plans for relocating the Census Bureau, Republicans have raised concerns about the possible politicization of the national population count in 2010.

Earlier this year, GOP lawmakers squawked when the White House signaled that it would take over the Census Bureau if then- Commerce secretary nominee Judd Gregg (R) won the post. Under that scenario, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, a former head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, was expected to oversee its operations.

Gregg withdrew his name for Commerce secretary, however, and the relocation never happened.

“Congressman Burton hopes this amendment reasserts Congressional authority and guarantees that the White House can’t revert to its original policy of taking over the 2010 census. The goal is to protect the Census from being politicized, and, fortunately, 262 members of Congress agreed today,— said a Burton spokesman.