Bill aims to give ex-cons a fair shot at federal jobs

Bill aims to give ex-cons a fair shot at federal jobs
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A bipartisan group of lawmakers unveiled legislation Thursday that they say will give formerly incarcerated people a fair shot at federal employment.

The Fair Chance Act, which Sens. Cory BookerCory BookerLawmakers gear up for spending bill, infrastructure votes Booker: End of police reform negotiations a 'frustrating experience' Sunday shows - All eyes on spending votes MORE (D-N.J.) and Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats argue price before policy amid scramble Liberal group launches campaign urging Republicans to support Biden's agenda Domestic extremists return to the Capitol MORE (R-Wis.) introduced in the Senate and Reps. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsFormer GOP congressional candidate Kimberly Klacik suing Candace Owens for defamation Former Cummings staffer unveils congressional bid McCarthy, GOP face a delicate dance on Jan. 6 committee MORE (D-Md.) and Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) introduced in the House, would prohibit federal contractors and federal agencies from asking about the criminal history of a job applicant until an applicant receives a conditional offer of employment. 

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“Empowering people with records to become productive members of society instead of repeat offenders is not only fiscally sound, it’s the morally responsible thing to do,” Booker said in a news release. “There are millions of Americans with records who are quickly passed over by employers without considering their skills or qualifications because of their history." 

Advocates for ex-offenders have been pushing President Obama to ban the box on federal job applications that asks people whether they have a criminal record. Eighteen states and over 100 cities and counties have taken the action, as well as companies such as Wal-Mart, Koch Industries, Target, Home Depot and Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Cummings said it’s time to build upon those state and local policies in places including his home state of Maryland.

“This bill will help us reduce recidivism, break the cycles of crime we see all too often and make our communities safer in the process,” he said.

Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) are co-sponsoring the Senate bill and Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.), Cedric Richmond (D-La.), John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Bobby Scott (D-Va.) are co-sponsoring the legislation in the House.