NAACP Opposes Federal Funding Bill Passed By The U.S. House Eliminating Funding For ACS

NAACP Strongly Opposes Federal Funding Bill Passed By The U.S. House Eliminating Funding For Crucial U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey

BILL FUNDING THE DEPARTMENTS OF COMMERCE & JUSTICE AND VARIOUS SCIENCE PROGRAMS WILL BE CONSIDERED BY THE SENATE AS EARLY AS NEXT WEEK

On May 10, 2012, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill (H.R. 5326) funding the Departments of Commerce and Justice and a number of federal science programs in fiscal year 2013.  Final passage of this bill occurred after an amendment was adopted, by a vote of 232 yeas to 190 nays, which bars the use of any funds in the bill for conducting the Commerce Department’s American Community Survey, which gathers demographic information to help determine how federal and state funds are distributed each year.  The bill also dramatically reduces annual funding for the Census Bureau by over $100 million.  The negative consequences of these proposals would affect the nation’s ability to meet the needs of Americans through allocation of resources, monitor the nation’s economic recovery, and meet our constitutional obligation to conduct an accurate census in 2020. Racial and ethnic minority Americans, low-income Americans, and the most vulnerable among us would be disproportionately affected by these cuts in data and services. 

The American Community Survey (ACS) is the only source of vital, objective, consistent, and comprehensive information about the nation’s social, economic, and demographic characteristics down to the neighborhood level. The federal government alone allocates more than $450 billion annually in program funds to state and local governments based in whole or in part on ACS data. In addition, the 1965 Voting Rights Act relies on ACS data to make determinations under section 203, which requires jurisdictions with a high percentage of people who are not proficient in the English language to offer bilingual voting materials; there is no other source for this data. Equally important, businesses rely on ACS data to make decisions about where to locate and expand, what goods and services to offer, the scope of employee training needed, and long term investment opportunities. Nonprofit organizations use the ACS to guide services to those most in need and to measure the success of their programs.

The reduced funding level in the House-passed bill will force the Census Bureau to cancel some or all of the Economic Census, which is published every five years and provides core information on virtually all non-farm businesses and related data on business expenditures, commodity flows, and minority and women-owned businesses. It is a fundamental building block of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and national income and product accounts. Abandoning plans for this important assessment of economic activity across diverse sectors would be disastrous at a time when data is an essential component of the roadmap to economic recovery and progress and job creation.

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