KEY VOTE: Cosponsorship of the Equal Representation Act (S. 3659 / H.R. 7109)

KEY VOTE: Senate · Jan 31, 2024

Heritage Action supports the Equal Representation Act (S. 3659/ H.R. 7109) and will include COSPONSORSHIP of this legislation on our legislative scorecard.

The Equal Representation Act (S. 3659/H.R. 7109), introduced by Sen. Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) and Reps. Chuck Edwards (R-N.C.) and Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), requires the Census Bureau to include a citizenship question on all future decennial censuses and subsequently prohibits all non-citizens from being counted toward congressional district and Electoral College apportionment. The bill also requires that the Census Bureau publicly report on citizenship status data obtained from the census questionnaire.

A central purpose of the Census is to provide an accurate and fair count of the U.S. population – including the number of citizens and noncitizens. But the Census should not be used to take resources and representation away from American citizens in favor of illegal immigrants. As the Census Bureau explains, “The Census tells us who we are and where we are going as a nation, and helps our communities determine where to build … It helps the government decide how to distribute [U.S. taxpayer] funds and assistance to states and localities.” Importantly, the number of residents obtained through Census data also dictates Congressional seat and Electoral College apportionment. Because the number of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives is a fixed 435, districts that have a large population not legally allowed to vote allots a disproportionate weight to the legal voters in those districts. Counting noncitizens rewards states with extra congressional districts – and representation in Congress – they do not deserve. Similarly, it unfairly skews presidential elections because electoral votes are allocated based on the number of congressional representatives in each state.

The Census citizenship question was abandoned in the 2010 questionnaire – after all but one Census conducted from 1820 to 2000 included a question about citizenship or place of birth for at least some portion of the population. In 2010, the citizenship question was moved to the less-utilized American Community Survey, sent out on “a rotating basis through the decade.” When designing the 2020 Census questionnaire, the Trump administration recognized the need for accurate information on our population and attempted to reinstate the citizenship question.

The Supreme Court’s 2019 decision on whether the Commerce Department could reinstate a citizenship question on the 2020 Census was fractured and fragmented. Although it ultimately resulted in the question being removed for now, the Court upheld substantive issues raised: the Constitution allows Congress to ask a citizenship question when conducting a Census; the Commerce Department secretary has the authority to put a citizenship question on the Census; and then-Secretary Ross’s decision to improve the accuracy of the citizenship data collected by the Census Bureau was neither arbitrary nor capricious.

Congress must address the influence of a growing noncitizen population that is unfairly altering representation in the House, Electoral College votes, and billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars to blue states with sanctuary cities. These allocations should be based solely on the needs of American citizens. In fact, Thomas Jefferson understood this more than 200 years ago when acknowledging a complete Census – with a citizenship question – was critical to preserving America’s representative democracy.

Heritage Action supports the Equal Representation Act (S. 3659/ H.R. 7109) and will include COSPONSORSHIP of this legislation on our legislative scorecard.