Trump to announce new action at census news conference

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Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Seema Verma look on as President Donald Trump speaks during an event on kidney health at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, Wednesday, July 10, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON | President Donald Trump is expected to announce new executive action Thursday during a news conference on the 2020 census and his push to include a citizenship question.

Trump tweeted Thursday morning that he planned “a News Conference on the Census and Citizenship” after a White House Social Media Summit.

A senior administrator official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to preview the plans, said the president would be announcing new action, but the official did not elaborate.

Trump said last week that he was “very seriously” considering executive action to try to force the question’s inclusion, and that it was among four or five options he’d been weighing.

“It’s one of the ways that we’re thinking about doing it, very seriously,” he said, despite the fact that the government has already begun the process of printing the census questionnaire without the question.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said in an interview on Fox News Channel’s “Fox and Friends” Thursday morning that he’s expecting Trump to announce an executive order, and said he thinks “it’s a good move.”

An executive order would not, by itself, override court rulings blocking the question. But such a move could give administration lawyers a new basis to try to convince federal courts the question could be included.

Trump’s administration has faced numerous roadblocks to adding the question, including a Supreme Court ruling temporarily barring its inclusion . A second federal judge on Wednesday rejected the Justice Department’s plan to switch up the legal team fighting the question. The order came just a day after another federal judge in Manhattan issued a similar ruling, saying the Justice Department can’t replace nine lawyers so late in the dispute without satisfactorily explaining why it’s doing so.

But Trump has insisted his administration push forward, and suggested last week that officials might be able to add an addendum to the questionnaire with the question after it’s already printed.

The administration’s focus on asking broadly about citizenship for the first time since 1950 reflects the enormous political stakes and potential costs in the once-a-decade population count that determines the allocation of seats in the House of Representatives for the next 10 years and the distribution of some $675 billion in federal spending.

If immigrants are undercounted, Democrats fear that would pull money and political power away from Democratic-led cities where immigrants tend to cluster, and shift it to whiter, rural areas where Republicans do well.