Cummings and Issa Urge Gowdy to Act on ​Legislation to “Ban The Box” in Federal Hiring

Jun 28, 2017
Press Release

Cummings and Issa Urge Gowdy to Act on  ​Legislation to “Ban The Box” in Federal Hiring


Washington, D.C. (June 28, 2017)—Today, Reps. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Darrell Issa sent a letter to Chairman Trey Gowdy urging him to place the bipartisan, bicameral Fair Chance Act on the agenda for the Committee’s next business meeting.  The bill, which would give formerly incarcerated Americans a fair chance at obtaining employment with the federal government, was introduced by Cummings and Issa in April.

“This bipartisan bill would reduce recidivism and strengthen our communities,” Cummings and Issa wrote.  “It is a balanced approach that gives prospective employees a meaningful opportunity to interview and be considered based on their merits, while still providing employers the opportunity to learn about criminal histories before hiring new employees.”

Due in part to significant grassroots efforts across the country, states and cities have been implementing “Ban the Box” polices to help people with criminal records overcome the barrier to employment of having to “check the box” on job applications.  Eighteen states and more than 100 cities and counties have taken action, and companies such as Walmart, Koch Industries, Target, Home Depot, Starbucks, and Bed, Bath & Beyond have also embraced Ban the Box policies.

The Fair Chance Act would:

  • ban the federal government—including the executive, legislative, and judicial branches—from requesting criminal history information from applicants until they reach the conditional offer stage;
  • prohibit federal contractors from requesting criminal history information from candidates for positions within the scope of federal contracts until the conditional offer stage;
  • include important exceptions for positions related to law enforcement and national security duties, positions requiring access to classified information, and positions for which access to criminal history information before the conditional offer stage is required by law; and
  • require the Department of Labor, Census Bureau, and Bureau of Justice Statistics to issue a report on the employment statistics of formerly incarcerated individuals.

Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) introduced the bill in the Senate in April, and it passed unanimously out of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, chaired by Johnson, the next month.

On May 21, 2015, Cummings and more than 70 Members of the House sent a letter to President Obama urging him to adopt “ban the box” hiring policies in the federal government. In November, the Office of Personnel Management issued a final rule promoting fair chance hiring policies.

Click here to read the letter.

115th Congress