House Republicans on Thursday threatened legal action against the White House for its decision to extend its jurisdiction to the Census Bureau and demanded that President Obama respond positively to a letter they sent on Wednesday urging him to reverse the action.
"If the president doesn't acquiesce to our letter, and we suspect Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., will not insist on that, then we would seek the courts," said House Oversight and Government Affairs ranking member Darrell Issa, R-Calif.
At a news conference headlined by Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, Issa added that he believes the federal courts will agree that the White House's efforts to assert greater oversight of Census Bureau operations violate the law.
In their letter, Boehner and 14 other Republicans warned that White House involvement or oversight of the census process would "result in the politicization of the census and open the door to massive waste and abuse in the expenditure of taxpayer funds, billions of which are distributed on the basis of census data."
White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said in a statement to the Associated Press on Wednesday that the Oval Office's collaboration with the Census Bureau would not interfere with the regular chain of command of its as-yet-unnamed leadership. "This administration has not proposed removing the census from the Department of Commerce and the same congressional committees that had oversight during the previous administration will retain that authority," he said.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., on Thursday criticized the Republicans for "mak[ing] a show about nothing." Maloney added, "Even though the White House issued a statement saying that they were NOT proposing removing the Census [Bureau] from the Department of Commerce or directing the Census from the White House, today House Republicans had a press event to decry what ISN'T happening," she said.