Congressman Steve King

Representing the 4th District of Iowa


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King Defends Census Citizenship Question in House Speech

Jul 11, 2019
Press Release


“Here’s my reason: we want to know how many citizens are in the United States of America.”

Washington, D.C.- Congressman Steve King releases video of remarks he delivered on the floor of the House of Representatives this morning. In his remarks, King defends the Trump administration’s authority to restore a question regarding citizenship to the upcoming census, and King discusses provisions of legislation he has introduced (HR 1320- the Census Accuracy Act) which similarly seeks to place questions regarding respondent’s legal status within the United States on the census questionnaire.

To watch Congressman King’s remarks, click the image above or this link.


“We’re establishing immigration policy here in the United States Congress by an enumerated power in our Constitution, I might add, and we’re doing that with people on that side of the aisle saying ‘we don’t want to know any more than how many homo sapiens we can count within the shores of the United States of America.’ But they want to know a lot of other minutiae if it helps them politically.”

. . .

“The Obama census short form said: what is your name, what is your phone number, what’s your birth day, what sex are you- I point out they didn’t ask your gender, they asked sex because that’s actually definitive- what is your ethnicity, what is your race, do you have an unmarried partner, and, if you have children, they ask this question, are they biological or adopted sons or daughters…But you can’t ask the question ‘are you a citizen of the United States?’ All of these questions and many more, and we can’t ask the question ‘are you a citizen of the United States?’ ”

. . .

“The [Supreme] Court says that you have the authority to ask the question, but we think you have the wrong reason to ask the question so now we’re going to remand it back to the lower court to come up with a better reason. Here’s my reason: we want to know how many citizens are in America. That’s all you need to ask. It’s simple as can be.”

King’s remarks are particularly timely. On Friday, July 5, King publicly encouraged President Trump to restore the citizenship question to the census via an executive order. It is being reported that President Trump is “expected to announce an executive action related to the ongoing battle over the 2020 census” this afternoon.

Congressman King also used the occasion of his floor remarks to provide an update on the status of Jaci Hermstad, a native of Spencer, Iowa who is courageously battling a rare form of ALS. Miss Hermstad receives her third dose of an experimental gene-therapy treatment today following the granting of a waiver by the FDA in response to legislation introduced by Congressman King.

Additional Background:

Congressman King is the leading Congressional proponent of restoring a question regarding respondent’s citizenship status to the census, and he has worked effectively to advance this cause. Here are a few of the initiatives Congressman King has championed regarding the Census citizenship question:

1. Letter to Commerce Secretary Ross: In February of 2018, King led a letter signed by 10 Members of Congress expressing support for requiring the decennial census to ask about citizenship. “We write to demonstrate our strong support for requiring the decennial census to ask respondents about their citizenship status,” the King letter states. “Adding a citizenship question would result in American citizens being more accurately represented in Congress.”

2. Lead sponsor of HR 1320, the Census Accuracy Act. The bill requires that, starting with the 2020 census, the questionnaire will include a checkbox which will allow the respondent to identify whether they are a citizen, a lawfully admitted permanent resident, an alien with lawful status, or none of these. In addition, the bill requires that aliens identify which Federal program or law granted them legal status. 

3. King Amendment #9 to HR 3055.  The Democrats included language in HR 3055 which seeks to block funding from being used by the Census to inquire about citizenship status. The King amendment attempted to eliminate this language so that the Commerce Department could implement the question. King’s amendment garnered 192 votes on the House floor, including among them the votes of House GOP leadership.



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