updated 5/20/2009 11:18:58 AM ET 2009-05-20T15:18:58

President Barack Obama's nominee to be the next census director moved closer to Senate confirmation on Wednesday, with approval all but assured after he ruled out the controversial use of statistical sampling in the 2010 head count.

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved Robert Groves by voice vote without objections.

Last week, Groves offered his assurance not to use sampling. Groves also expressed concern about a persistent undercount of minorities, who typically vote for Democrats, but he has not said whether he would push for a government halt to immigration raids — as the Census Bureau successfully did in 2000.

Groves, 60, a veteran survey researcher from the University of Michigan, was expected to be confirmed by the full Senate as early as this week.

House Republicans have been vocal in expressing concern about Groves. As a former census associate director, Groves pushed for sampling in the 1990s to make up for an undercount of millions of minorities but was later overruled by the Republican Commerce secretary, who called the move "political tampering."

After last week's hearing, House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said he appreciated Groves' commitment to keep sampling out of the 2010 census but said he would remain watchful for a "census potentially being tainted by political influence."

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