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 SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersShowtime says Sacha Baron Cohen did not dress as 'disabled veteran' 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser Ocasio-Cortez floating progressive sub-caucus 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 Campbell BrownSenate Dems tell Trump: Don't meet with Putin one-on-one On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Trump walks back criticism of UK Brexit strategy | McConnell worries US in 'early stages' of trade war | US trade deficit with China hits new record Blueprint to Lower Drug Prices could offer a way forward in fight against mushrooming costs MORE (Ohio), Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseWho is Andrew Wheeler, EPA's new acting chief? 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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 ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottGOP senators introduce resolution endorsing ICE Senate takes symbolic shot at Trump tariffs Congress should prioritize diversity so government reflects Americans 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.