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Census Dodges a Bullet but the Immigration Issue Remains

Yesterday, in a straight party-line vote, the Senate voted 60-39 to approve cloture on H.R. 2847, the Commerce-Justice-Science appropriations bill. This action effectively blocks consideration of Sens. David Vitter (R-La.) and Robert Bennett’s (R-Utah) controversial amendment to bar implementation of the 2010 Census unless it collected data on citizenship and immigration status for each respondent.

Through this move, the Senate assures that the 2010 Census will be carried out on time, within the existing budget, and with relative accuracy. As we’ve discussed previously, the Vitter amendment implementation would have led to a postponed Census Day, substantial cost increases, delayed congressional apportionment, and a potentially sizeable undercount due to immigrant fears that census participation would lead to a visit from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. And an inaccurate count, in turn, would result in the misapplication of trillions of public and business funds over the coming decade.

The Senate did the right thing yesterday by voting down what fellow Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) called a “transparent political stunt.” Now Congress needs to move on to the real issue behind the Vitter amendment and turn to reforming immigration policy. And they might follow Landrieu’s advice to get that arduous task done: working across the aisle to reach common ground.