What happened to those  Census jobs?

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This Week on Capitol Hill

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye and Kolby KickingWoman

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House of Representatives pass war powers resolution

President Donald J. Trump last week ordered the killing Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, head of Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, sending tensions between the United States and the Middle East country to a new high.

This also sparked debate amongst members of Congress on Capitol Hill since the Trump administration did not consult Congress before launching the strike on Soleimani. This lead Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-California, to introduce a war powers resolution that says the president must have authorization from Congress before military force is used.

The resolution passed the U.S. House by a vote of 224 to 194. The vote nearly fell along partisan lines with eight Democrats voting against the resolution and three republicans voted for it.

Here’s how the four Native Americans in the House of Representatives voted and what they had to say (quotes from each individual’s congressional website).

Representative Deb Haaland, D-New Mexico — Voted for the resolution

“The Trump Administration has shown the American people that they are willing to take us to the brink of war and put our troops, diplomats, and Americans abroad in harm’s way. This War Powers Resolution reflects the constitutional power of Congress to prevent dangerous escalations into another endless war,” she said.

Representative Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma — Voted against the resolution

“House Democrats so dislike President Trump that they will use anything he says or does to make a political point – even falsely accusing him of starting a war,” said Cole. “President Trump does not want war with Iran, and he has not waged war with Iran. In accordance with Article II of the Constitution, President Trump appropriately exercised defensive action in response to the Iranian regime’s ever-increasing aggression against United States interests. He did so by killing a dangerous terrorist who was the mastermind behind the deaths of hundreds of Americans and who was plotting to kill even more. Protecting Americans in the face of imminent threats doesn’t warrant the partisan resolution pushed by Democrats.”

Representative Sharice Davids, D-Kansas — Voted for the resolution

Rep. Davids has not released a statement regarding her vote for the resolution, although she did send this press release following the killing of Gen. Soleimani:

"Qassem Soleimani committed atrocious crimes against American troops and innocent people. But his killing will only serve to further destabilize an already dangerous region and put more American and civilian lives at risk. The American people deserve to know that this Administration has a strategy for how to deal with the aftermath of this major escalation,” Rep. Davids said. “As someone who grew up in a military family, I know what it's like to have those you care about serve overseas. My priority is ensuring this Administration has a plan to keep our service members, embassy personnel and U.S. citizens around the globe safe. I will continue to monitor and expect to be kept apprised of the situation, as is the responsibility of this Administration to Congress.”

Representative Markwayne Mullin, R-Oklahoma — Voted against the resolution

“Nobody wants war with Iran and President Trump understands President Reagan’s philosophy of peace through strength,” Mullin said. “This resolution ties our Commander-in-Chief’s hands and threatens the safety and security of our service members. Just because Pelosi Democrats don’t like our president, it doesn’t mean they can undermine his constitutional authority to defend our country.”

RELATED: What next in the conflict with Iran?

Hearing on “Reaching Hard-to-Count Communities in the 2020 Census”

The first enumeration of the 2020 Census is in a couple weeks in Toksook Bay, Alaska, which is a Yupik Alaska Native village, according to the National Congress of American Indians, and the lawmakers are worried that the Census Bureau isn’t prepared.

The Committee on Oversight and Reform wanted to hear from witnesses how the Census Bureau is strategizing and planning to reach the hard-to-count communities in the 2020 Census.

Witnesses included:

  • Kevin Allis, chief executive officer of the National Congress of American Indians
  • Vanita Gupta, president and chief executive officer of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
  • Darrell Moore, executive director of the Center for South Georgia Regional Impact at Valdosta State University
  • Marc Morial, president and chief executive officer of the National Urban League
  • Arturo Vargas, CEO of the NALEO Educational Fund
  • John Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-New York, opened up the hearing with “I am gravely concerned that the Census Bureau may not be prepared to meet this high bar and that the 2020 Census could leave communities across the country undercounted, underrepresented, and underfunded.”

Rep. Haaland came into the conversation concerned about the urban Native communities in her state. Her district includes Albuquerque, the largest city in the state.

“After today’s hearing, it’s becoming more clear that a failure to count Indian Country in the 2020 Census is a failure for the federal government to live up to its trust responsibility to Native Nations. I’ll be working to ensure Native Americans in both rural and urban areas know this critical fact, as I work to ensure all communities in New Mexico are counted,” she said.

The main point: The Census Bureau is behind in hiring and there will likely be negative consequences, especially for the already hard-to-count communities.

“Hiring is vital for a complete and accurate count in [American Indian and Alaska Native] communities. The U.S. Census Bureau planned to hire ‘hundreds of thousands of positions,’ yet the hiring process has been sluggish at best, requiring applicants to wait weeks or even months before hearing back about open positions,” wrote Allis in his statement. “The U.S. Census Bureau has not indicated how close they are to their hiring goal for enumerators for [American Indian and Alaska Native] communities, and we urge the Committee to exercise its oversight authority to ensure Indian Country and Congress are apprised of the status of hiring activities.”

Witnesses emphasized that in all of their communities of color, people are more likely to participate in the Census if an actual person, or an enumerator, knocks on their door. The chances improve if the person is someone who comes from their community.

One of the contributing factors or causes for the delay in hiring is the Census Bureau’s misaligned advertising campaign, said Morial.

The ad campaign ends in late June or early July which is a month before the non-response follow-up ends on July 31, he said.

Toksook Bay isn’t so lucky when it comes to the five-month advertising campaign.

Allis’s statement says that “the Alaska paid media campaign began December 18, 2019, leaving only a four-week turnaround time to fulfill the entire cycle of messaging.”

This is problematic because “The delay in advertising will likely cause an undercount among already HTC communities.” 

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Kolby KickingWoman is a reporter/producer for Indian Country Today. He is Blackfeet/Gros Ventre from the great state of Montana and currently reports and lives in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter - @KDKW_406. Email - kkickingwoman@indiancountrytoday.com

Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, Diné, is the Washington editor for Indian Country Today based in Washington, D.C. Follow her on Twitter: @jourdanbb. Email: jbennett-begaye@indiancountrytoday.com

Indian Country Today, LLC., is a non-profit news organization owned by the non-profit arm of the The National Congress of American Indians. The Indian Country Today editorial team operates independently.

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