Ross Denies He Wanted Citizenship Question For Major Voting Rights Change

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 14: U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross appears before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on March 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. Ross testified about ongoing preparations for the 2020 Cens... WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 14: U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross appears before the House Oversight and Reform Committee on March 14, 2019 in Washington, DC. Ross testified about ongoing preparations for the 2020 Census, and with it, the addition of a citizenship question. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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March 14, 2019 11:51 a.m.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross denied that he sought to add a citizenship question to the 2020 census in order to change how congressional seats are allocated across the country.

Back in mid-2017, then-Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach pitched Ross on adding a citizenship question and a legal status question, so that the count for congressional apportionment would not include certain immigrants.

“I have no control over what Kris Kobach or anyone else puts in an email to me,” Ross said, referencing the Kobach email that cited apportionment. Ross also noted that he rejected the version of the question Kobach suggested to him.

Ross also denied that other emails where he discussed apportionment were relevant to the push to add a citizenship question, claiming he was just asking questions about apportionment and citizenship to get information.

Ross’ comments came in front of the House Oversight Committee — his first appearance in front of lawmakers since previous congressional testimony that claimed that a December 2017 Justice Department request initiated the move to add the question.

Documents, like the Kobach email, released through the litigation of contradicted that claim.

Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) gave Ross the opportunity to withdraw his previous testimony and Ross declined to do so.

“I testified truthfully to the best of my ability in response to what my understanding of the questions were,” Ross said.

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