Groves Nomination: On the Move?

Jul 10, 2009 9:39am

Roll Call reports this morning that the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, D-Nev., has scheduled a vote Monday to attempt to break the two-month Republican hold on the nomination of Robert M. Groves to head the U.S. Census Bureau. Roll Call also identifies the mystery senators who placed the hold, which I wrote about last month – Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and David Vitter (R-La.). They're said to have acted "over concerns that he would use statistical sampling for the 2010 effort," despite Groves' pledge otherwise at his confirmation hearing, where he noted that the Supreme Court had ruled out statistical adjustment for reapportionment purposes, and that, as a result, "no implementation infrastructure for adjustment was put in place for 2010."

11 a.m. update:

I can add a bit here; Jim Manley, Sen. Reid's spokesman, confirms that the Republicans have agreed to proceed on Groves at 5:30 pm. Monday – first a procedural vote to end the hold (60 votes required), which is expected to pass; then a voice vote confirming the nomination.

On the hold, he said, "Members raise concerns. We try to address those concerns as quickly as possible. Once they've been addressed, we're able to go forward." On the concern behind the Groves hold, he added: "It's been addressed."

12:30 p.m. update:

OK, a staffer on the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee fills in some of the blanks. Vitter's concens were not solely about sampling, but also about the Census Bureau's use of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now as a "Census partner" in urging participation among hard-to-reach populations. (ACORN's been accused of submitting fraudulent voter registration forms in the 2008 election.) Shelby's concerns, meanwhile, involved management issues at the bureau – specficially, an aborted plan to use hand-held computers in door-to-door non-response followup.

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., chairman of the subcommittee handling the nomination, has been working with Sens. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) to move it forward. While the holds have not been lifted (hence the need for a 60-vote "cloture" motion), this committee staffer says the Senate Republican leadership was persuaded to let action proceed on grounds that Groves can't be held to account for previous decisions at the bureau, and that leaving it leaderless would do more harm than good.

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