WASHINGTON (AP) – The nation’s most comprehensive survey of housing, demographic and socio-economic data was saved Friday when congressional budget negotiators rejected a plan to cut the Census Bureau’s spending plan.

The joint House-Senate committee approved an $812 million Census budget for the 2006 budget year, a $68 million increase over 2005, said John Scofield, spokesman for the House Appropriations Committee.

The increase saves the American Community Survey, which is being phased in to replace the long-form questionnaire on the 10-year Census.

“I am glad the Congress wants to keep the nation going with the most up-to-date and accurate information possible,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a New York Democrat.

Rep. Tom Davis, a Virginia Republican, said: “The American Community Survey is a valuable tool, one that should not be abandoned.”

The Census Bureau already has spent $700 million on the survey, which uses monthly interviews with 250,000 Americans to generate annual reports on housing, demographic and socio-economic conditions.

It would have cost an additional $1.3 billion to scrap the survey and retool the 2010 Census to include a long form questionnaire similar to the one used in the 2000 population count.

The Senate had approved a 2006 Census budget of $727 million, about $17 million less than 2005. The House had allocated $812 million, and the joint committee agreed on Friday.

The Bush Administration has pushed to save the survey, requesting $877 million for the agency.

Business leaders, demographers and the past three directors of the Census Bureau led a lobbying effort to save funding for the Census Bureau.

Census Bureau officials declined to comment Friday, pending final approval by Congress.

Scofield said the House is expected to vote on the bill Tuesday or Wednesday. The Senate is expected to follow suit, sending it to President Bush by the end of next week.

The Census budget is part of a larger spending bill for the departments of Commerce and Justice.

On the Net:

Census – http://www.census.gov

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