Rehnquist: Leave judiciary out of census debate

Facing a funding cutoff June 15 because of the fight between Republicans and the Clinton administration over the use of sampling in next year's census, Supreme Court Chief Justice Rehnquist has urged House and Senate appropriators to exempt the judiciary from the fight.

"The judicial branch should not, and does not, have any role in this debate, as the resolution of this issue very properly rests with the political branches of government," Rehnquist wrote in a letter dated March 17. "The judiciary's appropriations should, therefore, also be free from entanglement in this political dispute."

The letter was sent to House Appropriations Chairman Bill Young, R-Fla., and ranking member David Obey, D-Wis., while a similar letter was sent to their Senate counterparts.

As part of a deal reached last year by House Republicans and the Clinton administration, fiscal 1999 Commerce- Justice-State funding, which includes the judiciary and Census Bureau, after June 15 must be approved by Congress and President Clinton. Republicans charged that, to give him a better bargaining position, Clinton insisted on having the three departments included in the cutoff, but there has been some discussion of fencing off the census funding, which a Democratic census staffer called "absolutely unacceptable."

A spokeswoman for House Appropriations Committee Democrats said, "Some committee Democrats don't believe we should be shutting down the government," but did not say whether Democrats would agree to exempt judiciary funding from the June 15 deadline.

House Commerce-Justice-State Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., last week made reference to the judiciary in a hearing at which Census Bureau Director Kenneth Prewitt told the panel the bureau's revised fiscal 2000 budget request would not be available until later this spring.

"Does it bother you that the Supreme Court will be waiting for its pay?" Rogers asked. "Does it bother you that the lights in the Supreme Court will go out?"

A spokeswoman for the Appropriations Committee said she has not seen the letter, but said the panel did not want the funding held up either. "That's our position as well," she said. "We want nothing more than to see the full funding flow."

Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., Monday announced that, following on efforts last week to release aid money from the fiscal 1999 supplemental to respond to the farm crisis, Senate Democrats and the administration have found $30 million in temporary funding to back $333 million in emergency farm loans and meet temporary staff needs at local Farm Service Agency offices. This sum will provide stopgap aid until Congress finishes work on the supplemental, which contains $153 million in emergency farm aid - $110 million to guarantee farm loans and $43 million to release disaster relief payments to eligible farmers.

Both the House and Senate have passed versions of the supplemental, but have yet to convene a conference committee. An aide to Daschle said that when Congress reconvenes in April, Senate Democrats "will continue to do everything we can in whatever way necessary to get this money out to farm country."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.