As soon as this week, the House and Senate will consider (and most likely pass) a massive spending bill to fund government operations for Fiscal Year 2014. While not matching the funding level requested by the White House for the Census Bureau, H.R. 3547 would provide more money for the Census than the House originally approved, and more than  Census received in the previous fiscal year.

The Senate Appropriations Committee had approved $982.5 million for the Census, in line with the Obama Administration's request. The new omnibus funding bill would provide $945 million --$37.5 million less than the Administration's request, but $57.6 million more than what the Census received in FY2013, and $100 million more than the House Appropriations Committee's approved level.

In addition to the funding boost, the funding bill contains no restrictions on the American Community Survey (ACS), a huge improvement from FY2013, when the House voted to eliminate the ACS after voting to make it voluntary (a restriction that thankfully was not enacted).

As observed by Terri Ann Lowenthal of the Census Project coalition, after crunching all these funding numbers for MRA and other coalition members, "While full funding for the Census Bureau would have been optimal, the final outcome is probably as good as we could expect in the current fiscal climate. Nevertheless, the funding “ramp up” for the 2020 Census (which includes the ACS) has been painfully slow, causing many delays, streamlining, and cancellations in research and testing projects over the past two years. The Census Bureau must continue to make hard decisions about where to focus constrained resources for final research and testing that will lead to selection of a 2020 Census design framework by the end of FY2015 (one year behind the original schedule)."