Boehner Charges Obama Trying to Politicize the Census
By Steve Vogel
House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) objected today to an Obama administration plan to have the Census Bureau work closely with the White House, charging that the move is an attempt to politicize the 2010 census that will determine redistricting of congressional seats.
Under the plan, the White House will oversee the director of the Census Bureau, although the agency will still formally report to the Commerce Department.
Disclosure of the plan followed President Obama's nomination this week of Sen. Judd Gregg to be Commerce Secretary. The nomination of the New Hampshire Republican has raised concerns among Latino groups eager to ensure that the nation's Hispanic population is fully counted in the next census. They complain that Gregg has not supported the Census Bureau in the past, opposing emergency funding for the 2000 census.
Boehner suggested that the White House action will be raised during Gregg's confirmation hearings.
"This action appears to be motivated by politics, rather than the interests of our country, and the burden will be on the new administration to prove otherwise during Senator Gregg's confirmation hearings," Boehner said in a statement. "The United States Census should remain independent of politics; it should not be directed by political operatives working out of the White House," Boehner added.
Rep. Darrell Issa, (R-Calif..), the ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which oversees the Census Bureau, said he was concerned about "the injection of Chicago-style politics" into the 2010 census.
At a White House briefing today, spokesman Robert Gibbs denied that the White House was making a change with control of the 2010 census in mind, or that Obama was concerned about Gregg's support of the census. Gibbs said it was in keeping with past practices.
"I think the historical precedent of this is there's a director of the census that works for the secretary of Commerce, the president, and also works closely with the White House to ensure a timely and accurate count," Gibbs said. "And that's what we have in this instance."
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