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 SandersBiden sparks bipartisan backlash on Afghanistan withdrawal  Why does Bernie Sanders want to quash Elon Musk's dreams? Congress can protect sacred Oak Flat in Arizona from mining project 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. 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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 ScottShocking killing renews tensions over police Democrat: 'Registration, engagement' are keys to toppling Sen. Tim Scott in South Carolina Passage of FASTER Act is critical for food allergy community 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.