The commerce secretary, who is under fire for circumventing the required report to Congress, dodges explaining himself.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) continues to question a Republican agenda, which targets people of color and immigrants.
During a hearing this week, before the House Oversight Committee, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was under fire by Democrats for seeking the inclusion of a citizenship question on the 2020 census.
But Ocasio-Cortez, who began to question Ross in the seventh hour of the hearing, made clear what the argument is against him — he failed to consult with the U.S. Census Bureau experts. Ross received guidance from Kris Kobach.
She referred to a July 2017 email from Kobach, then-Kansas secretary of state who was well-known for voter suppression, to Ross.
“It’s all there in black and white,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
The email showed that Kobach was in favor of adding the citizenship question.
Ocasio-Cortez also said that Ross violated the U.S. Census Act by not submitting a report on the suggested change to Congress.
She asked Ross:
“While there is all of this debate about whether a citizenship question should be included or not included, the question I have is why are we violating the law to include any question, whatsoever, in the 2020 census?”
At first, Ross said he wouldn’t answer the question, but after the committee’s chairman, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) insisted, he said his lawyers told him they followed protocol.
Ocasio-Cortez said the change to the 1950 census question required Ross to submit a report while the question is being considered, not after the question was added.
Ross, however, said that his agency had in fact “complied with all the regulations.”
His appearance before the committee was days after a second federal judge said he had violated federal law and the Constitution by hastily adding the question to the survey.
The question could target immigrant communities, impacting disbursement of federal aid, congressional votes and electoral votes.
Rep. William Clay, (D-Mo.), who chaired the congressional panel overseeing the 2010 census, said that Ross has no credibility and should resign.
“Mr. Secretary, you lied to Congress, you misled the American people, and you are complicit in the Trump administration’s intent to suppress the growing political power of the non-white population.”
The Chairman Cummings asked for Ross’ statement in writing the fact that he complied with the law and reminded the committee that Ross was under oath. “I’m looking forward to that statement.”
Ocasio-Cortez tweeted right before questioning Ross:
IMO what’s going on in the Wilbur Ross Oversight hearing right now is far more explosive than the Cohen hearing. https://t.co/kn9626xi0O
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) March 14, 2019
In her first speech as a congresswoman, Ocasio-Cortez condemned Trump for the government shutdown that wasn’t about a wall but the “erosion of American democracy”.
She’s also specifically called out the racism being purported by this administration and Trump’s supporters.
In January she said Trump had given a platform and voice for racism and white supremacy. She’s additionally gone after Rep. Ron DeSantis for his racist and sexist comments about her turning attention to his voters.