Dems press Obama to 'ban the box'
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Twenty-seven senators want President Obama to block federal agencies and contractors from asking job applicants about prior criminal convictions. 
 
The senators, including 26 Democrats and presidential hopeful Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats: Where the hell are You? Sanders on Trump pick: This is how a rigged economy works Trump picks Goldman Sachs chief for top economic adviser: report MORE (I-Vt.), want Obama to take executive action to "ban the box," referring to a question on job applications that asks if an applicant has any convictions. 
 
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"We ask you to require federal contractors and agencies to refrain from asking job applicants about prior convictions until later in the hiring process," they said in a letter to Obama on Monday. "This policy would eliminate unnecessary barriers to employment for all job seekers and would give individuals re-entering the workforce the opportunity to apply for work based on their current merits rather than past wrong-doings."
 
In addition to Sanders, the letter was signed by Democratic Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.), Sherrod BrownSherrod BrownSenate passes stopgap funding bill, averting shutdown Senate advances funding measure, avoiding shutdown Stopgap funding bill poised to pass Senate before midnight deadline MORE (Ohio), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSenate Dems offer bill to curb tax break for Trump nominees Overnight Energy: Fight over miners' benefits risks shutdown | Flint aid crosses finish line in House Dem senator: Trump’s EPA pick is ‘corruption’ MORE (R.I.), Chris MurphyChris MurphyUkrainians made their choice for freedom, but now need US help Dem senator: Trump’s secretary pick ‘a big middle finger’ to Labor GOP eyes big gamble on ObamaCare MORE (Conn.), Chris CoonsChris CoonsThe Hill's 12:30 Report The Hill's 12:30 Report Trump gets chance to remake the courts MORE (Del.), Dick DurbinDick DurbinSenators move to protect 'Dreamers' Manchin urging colleagues to block funding bill as shutdown looms The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (Ill.), Al FrankenAl FrankenOvernight Tech: AT&T, Time Warner CEOs defend merger before Congress | More tech execs join Trump team | Republican details path to undoing net neutrality Lawmakers grill AT&T, Time Warner execs on B merger Dems press Trump to keep Obama overtime rule MORE (Minn.), Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyGreens slam Trump’s Interior Department pick Senate sends annual defense bill to Obama's desk Overnight Cybersecurity: Fed agency IT report cards | Senate Dems push for briefing on Russia hacks MORE (Mass.), Tim KaineTim KaineGOP eyes big gamble on ObamaCare Senate Democrats dig in as shutdown approaches Clinton reappears on Capitol Hill for Reid send-off MORE (Va.), Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyOvernight Energy: Fight over miners' benefits risks shutdown | Flint aid crosses finish line in House Senate sends annual defense bill to Obama's desk Dem senator: Trump’s EPA pick is ‘corruption’ MORE (Ore.), Patrick LeahyPatrick LeahyThe Hill's 12:30 Report The Hill's 12:30 Report Passing US-Canada preclearance would improve security and economy MORE (Vt.), Mazie HironoMazie HironoBudowsky: Did Putin elect Trump? 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They note that federal employers would still be able to ask about past convictions or conduct a background check before making a final employment decision. 
 
The senators said that actions by Obama would "restore hope and opportunity to those with criminal records who face substantial obstacles in their quest to be productive members of their communities." 
 
The letter to Obama comes amid a larger push for criminal justice reform in the Senate. Cardin has introduced legislation that would restore voting rights for formerly incarcerated individuals. 
 
Meanwhile, Sen. Tim ScottTim ScottSenate GOP: National museum should include Clarence Thomas Senate passes college anti-Semitism bill The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (S.C.) said earlier this month on ABC's "This Week" that he and other Republicans have "been working for the last several months on different proposals" addressing criminal justice reform.