House Bill Restricts Census Sampling

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The House this week passed the FY99 Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations bill, which appropriates $956 million for the 2000 census but requires that half of the money be withheld until Congress decides sometime after March 31 to release it to the Census Bureau. Christin Tinsworth, a spokeswoman for Rep. Dan Miller (R-FL), chairman of the subcommittee on the census, said the arrangement was agreed upon last fall, when Congress and President Clinton decided to establish a bipartisan monitoring board to track the census' progress and then decide whether to use statistical sampling to supplement head count. Without the opportunity to withhold money, "the administration could proceed forward without Congress' input, and the Constitution says Congress has a right to have a say in how the census is conducted," Tinsworth said. Democrats have said this is a scheme to hold the census hostage unless the bureau drops its plans to use sampling. Tinsworth said the bill will move on to conference with the Senate in September. The bill passed 225-203.

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