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GOP Calls on Locke to Reject Obama Census Plans

By Ed O'Keefe

Only hours after President Obama nominated Gary Locke to serve as the next commerce secretary, Republicans are calling on the former Washington governor to reject the administration's reported plans to have the next Census director report to both the commerce secretary and White House officials.

"Governor Locke must promise to keep politics out of the Census by retaining control over a fair and accurate count in the Commerce Department," House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement congratulating Locke on his nomination. "The United States Census should remain independent of politics; it should not be directed by political operatives working out of the White House."

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), ranking member on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and one of the first Republicans to raise concerns about Obama's Census plans, said in a statement that "The White House should learn from past mistakes and abandon any attempt to circumvent the authority of the Commerce Secretary. Injecting ‘Chicago-style’ politics into the census process represents the worst kind of political opportunism and completely undermines the President’s call for bipartisanship."

The administration first hinted at its plans as the nomination of Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) for the Commerce slot caused criticism from some minority groups.

Asked about the status of those plans during today's Daily White House Briefing, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said "The director of the census always would report to the secretary of commerce," adding that "I think members of Congress and the White House have a -- both have an interest in a fair and accurate census count."

Despite Republican concerns, the administration has not publicly stated that the Census Director would report to the White House, but it's expected officials will engage in some way in the final preparations for next year's headcount.

By Ed O'Keefe  | February 25, 2009; 2:45 PM ET
Categories:  Agencies and Departments, Congress  
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