Census bill could bring partial shutdown

House Republicans intend to bring a bill to the floor this week that would require the Census Bureau to institute post- census local review in the 2000 census, a move that is expected to bring fierce Democratic opposition.

"It's going to be an absolute war. ... I assume they'll shut the government down over it," a Democratic leadership aide said Thursday, after Republicans announced that at least one GOP census bill would reach the floor next week.

The census issue is entangled in the annual Commerce-Justice- State appropriations bill; Congress must release funding in that bill by June 15 or those departments face the prospect of a shutdown.

"There's no reason for us to back down. We have interested and educated opinion on our side," the Democratic aide said, referring to a list of mayors who have written letters in opposition to the bill.

A spokesman for House Government Reform Census Subcommittee Chairman Dan Miller, R-Fla., said Thursday that Democrats have continually maintained there is no time to change the bureau plans, while the bureau has yet to submit a detailed plan and budget.

"It's certainly one of the most important parts of [the GOP initiatives] and we want to get that moving as soon as possible," the spokesman said.

The GOP aide said he anticipated the other GOP census initiatives, including a provision for a second mailing and one to add additional languages, would be brought up after the break.

On Wednesday the House Government Reform Census Subcommittee, largely along party lines, marked up the disputed bill, which would require the bureau to allow local communities to review census numbers before they become official.

Contending the review would slow the census and prevent the use of statistical sampling, Commerce Secretary Daley has threatened that President Clinton will veto the bill, but it appears unlikely the legislation will make it past an expected Senate filibuster.

A Democratic census staff member said Republicans are gearing up for a highly partisan week, which will also include votes on emergency supplemental spending, the budget resolution and committee funding.

"It allows them to bury their [census] chip with as little attention as possible," the staff member said.

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