Apr 2, 2019

House Oversight subpoenas Wilbur Ross over census citizenship question

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The House Oversight Committee passed a vote 23-14 Tuesday to subpoena Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for records related to the administration's decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census, which critics say would lead to massive undercounts in heavily Democratic states with large immigrant communities.

Why it matters: With less than a year left until the 2020 Census population count, chairman Elijah Cummings said the Trump administration's "stonewalling" has left the committee no choice but "to obtain this information by compulsory process." The committee also authorized subpoenas for Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Gore to testify and Attorney General William Barr to provide records related to the investigation.

The big picture: Ross testified before the House Oversight Committee in March, where he told lawmakers that he acted solely at the request of the Justice Department to enhance the Voting Rights Act and denied that the citizenship question was intended to influence the allocation of congressional seats across the country.

  • His testimony came after 2 federal judges blocked his move to add the question, ruling it lacks a factual basis for necessity and would unconstitutionally suppress responses from non-citizens.
  • The Supreme Court is set to hold a hearing this month — with a ruling expected by June — on the consequential blockbuster case that would inform and shape public policy for the next decade.

The Department of Commerce issued the following statement in response to the subpoena:

"The Department remains committed to an open and responsive relationship with the Committee and has been nothing but cooperative with the Committee’s expansive and detailed requests for records,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “As of today, we have turned over 11,500 pages of documents to the Committee, and I voluntarily testified in front of the same Committee for nearly seven hours on this issue two weeks ago."

Go deeper: Trump claims 2020 census without citizenship question is "meaningless"

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5 p.m. ET: 652,079 — Total deaths: 30,438 — Total recoveries: 137,319.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 116,505 — Total deaths: 1,925 — Total recoveries: 921.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump is considering a quarantine on New York, parts of New Jersey and Connecticut. He signed a $2 trillion stimulus bill to give businesses and U.S. workers financial relief.
  4. State updates: Alaska is latest state to issue a stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month and has moved its presidential primary to June 23. Some Midwestern swing voters that supported Trump's handling of the virus less than two weeks ago are now balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter.
  5. World updates: In Spain, over 1,400 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. 🚀 Space updates: OneWeb filed for bankruptcy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  7. Hollywood: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson have returned to U.S. after being treated for coronavirus.
  8. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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Infant dies after testing positive for coronavirus in Chicago

Hospital staff working inside a COVID-19 screening tent in Chicago on March 26. Photo: Jim Vondruska/NurPhoto via Getty Images

An infant less than one year old died in Chicago, Illinois after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, the state health department said on Saturday.

Why it matters: The death would mark the first reported infant mortality from COVID-19 in the U.S. The fatality rate for the novel coronavirus in the U.S. is highest among those over 85 years old, per the CDC.

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Trump weighs quarantine of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

President Trump said on Saturday he is considering a "short term" quarantine of New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut — states that have already taken steps to quarantine residents and promote social distancing.

The big picture: With 112,000 people infected, the U.S. has the most COVID-19 cases in the world, exceeding China and Italy, per data from Johns Hopkins. A second wave of American cities, including Boston, Detroit, New Orleans and Philadelphia, are reporting influxes of cases.

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