Wilbur Ross arrived for his Oversight committee hearing with all the false confidence of a billionaire who’s operated with impunity for decades. During the hearing, Ross claimed that his attempt to insert a citizenship question into the 2020 census was:
- Not influenced by Steve Bannon and Kris Kobach, both of whom urged him multiple times to include such a question to suppress immigrant response rates to the census
- That the question was included to comply with the voting rights act, and not to reduce the representation of states/areas with immigrant populations
- That in any case, he was merely reinstating a question from the 1950 census.
- The fact that it was reinstated rather than a new question, meant that he did not need to inform Congress he was doing it.
There were several other fabrications and likely outright lies.
And then AOC began her questioning (which you can watch below). Using both news reports and court records, she made clear he was lying about his contact with Bannon, Kobach and his reasons for including the citizenship question.
Then, she pulled out the 1950 citizenship question and noted that it was very different from the question proposed by Ross, therefore not a reinstatement.
Finally, the knife, AOC asks why Ross has failed to file a report required by law before changes are made.
At this point, Ross’s billionaire entitlement kicks in and he says she’s out of time, so he won’t answer. Which is pretty amazing behavior for a witness. Cummings steps in and says he will ask the question for AOC. Then Mark Meadows, who’s fumbling around, tries to raise a point of order because “we don’t know what she’s talking about”. Meanwhile Ross’ attorneys are furiously whispering to him. All gets shot down by Cummings, who demands Ross answer and also provide a written statement. All of it is worth watching, but the action starts at 5:30 or so in the clip below.
I’ve got to agree that AOC’s team demonstrates a level of preparation that you rarely see, even from very experienced members’ questioning. This is commendable and really underscores how much energy and dedication AOC, Rep. Ilhan Omar, Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Rep. Rashida Tlaib are bringing to Congress. You can donate to them using the link here.
In this case, AOC is doing a remarkable job protecting the interests of the many immigrant families in her community. People who would be materially harmed if Ross got his way with this census question. The Trump administration’s anti-immigrant rhetoric would scare many immigrants away from the census, especially if a citizenship question were on it. That would mean fewer funds for those communities and a larger district with more people in it because the immigrant population would be undercounted.
AOC and her team know what is at stake and aren’t going to let a plutocrat like Ross harm the people of her district.
It’s great to watch how Cummings has her back, and fantastic to watch mediocre hacks like Ross and Meadows squirm under the pointed questioning.