Dr. Bernie Miller, pastor of New Covenant Fellowship Church and chairman of the U.S. Census Bureau’s African American Advisory Committee, met with Congressman William Clay, Jr. (D-MO), Chairman of the Subcommittee for Information Policy, Census and National Archives, on Friday to thank him for his support and assistance in getting the Community Partnerships funding included in the appropriations bill.
Dr. Miller said, “I want to personally thank Rep. Clay for his strong and decisive leadership. I’m also extremely delighted that the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science marked up legislation that includes funding for the Census Bureau.”
While details of the bill are not yet available, a statement issued by Alan Mollohan (D-WV), Chairman of the Commerce-Justice-Science committee, said in part “…this bill not only funds the critically important decennial census but restores funding for the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) and the Community Partnerships, which have proved in past decennial censuses to have been essential to achieving counts in certain hard to reach populations.”
Funding for the partnership program was in jeopardy when President Bush said in May that he would cut the $18 million that fund the Community Partnerships program from the Census Bureau’s 2008 budget, it was stated.
Dr. Miller said he immediately sent a letter in May to Rep. Clay, outlining the importance of the Community Partnerships Program to the black community.
After receiving Dr. Miller’s letter, Rep. Clay “sent a colleague to colleague note to other members of congress and secured over 26 signatures in support of the funding,” said Michelle Mitchell, legislative assistant to Rep. Clay.
Dr. Miller said, “In 1990, the black undercount was nearly two million, but in 2000, that number was cut in half. The Community Partnerships program was credited for reducing the undercount.”
The program provides money to hire partnership specialists in each of the 12 regional offices, “whose jobs it will be to hire persons in each region who will connect with churches, schools, community groups, fraternities, sororities, elected officials, and the private sector to help the Census Bureau reach the hard-to-count population.”
Senate appropriators typically wait until their House counterparts have marked up a spending bill before proceeding with their own version. Relatively early House passage of the Commerce-Justice-Science spending bill somewhat enhances the prospects for early Senate action and reduces the risk of the bill becoming bogged down during any potential end-of-year procedural complications, he said.