WASHINGTON, DC - House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today on the Prevent Deceptive Census Look Alike Mailings Act, which passed the House 416-0:
“Entering its 23rd decade, the U.S. Census is the longest-running national census in the world. Our founders wrote it into the Constitution, because taking a fair count is an essential part of fair government. A comprehensive, accurate Census helps ensure that our common resources are distributed where they are most needed, so that our communities can get the roads, schools, and police protection that they need. There’s nothing partisan about that goal.
“Unfortunately, some groups have set out to deceive Americans by disguising their own private mailings as Census documents. This month, Americans have received envelopes marked ‘Census’ and ‘official document,’ when the papers inside are nothing of the kind—and sometimes even political fundraising appeals. Groups that send out such mailings are taking advantage of the Census to unfairly promote their own interests. And even worse, they are interfering with a fair and accurate Census by possibly depressing the response. According to Barbara Everitt Bryant, a former Republican appointee to head the U.S. Census Bureau, ‘those who respond may feel they have been good citizens and already answered the census when their real questionnaires arrive next month.’
“To stop that kind of cynical manipulation, I am glad Congress has passed the Prevent Deceptive Census Look Alike Mailings Act. It would require any mailing with an envelope marked ‘Census’ to clearly indicate the sender, reducing the possibility of deception; it would also trigger an existing legal requirement that the mailing include a disclaimer stating that it is not affiliated with the U.S. Census. This bill won’t prevent any organization from using the word ‘Census’—but it will stop private organizations from disguising themselves as the federal government.
“This bill is an important way to ensure an unbiased count of all Americans, and I am pleased that the House supported its passage.”