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Congresswoman Grace Meng

Representing the 6th District of New York

Meng Criticizes Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for Refusing to Testify Before House Appropriations Subcommittee

Apr 3, 2019
Press Release
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY), a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, criticized Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross for refusing to testify before the panel this afternoon. Ross had been scheduled to appear before the Subcommittee about the Commerce Department’s 2020 budget. But he backed out of the hearing at the last minute.
 
“Today, Secretary Ross dissed not only Congress, but the American people,” said Meng. “His refusal to show-up and testify was a slap in the face to accountability and transparency, an insult to Congress’ oversight responsibilities, and our system of checks and balances. His failure to appear breaks the norms of Cabinet secretaries coming before Congress to justify the funding they seek for their agencies, and it’s an abandonment of his responsibilities as the Secretary of Commerce. The Secretary’s absence also prevents us from asking important questions that need to be answered about the 2020 census including the underestimating of needed funding, and why he lied to me about the origins of the citizenship question.”
 
“The Secretary’s decision to back out of today’s hearing is completely unacceptable,” Meng added. “I know that I should not be surprised at this administration’s lack of transparency, but Secretary Ross’ snub was nonetheless very frustrating. He may have dodged us today, but we will not let up in our efforts to hold him accountable. The American people deserve better.”
 
During the Subcommittee’s hearing in March 2018, Ross lied to Meng when she asked him if the President or anybody in the White House spoke to him or his team about adding the citizenship question. He said he was not aware of any discussions, but then a court filing later revealed that the Secretary did talk about the issue with the White House’s then-Chief Strategist Steve Bannon.
 
The Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies funds the U.S. Census Bureau.