Cummings Lauds Unanimous Senate Committee Passage of Bipartisan “Ban the Box” Bill

Oct 7, 2015
Press Release

Cummings Lauds Unanimous Senate Committee Passage of Bipartisan “Ban the Box” Bill


Washington, DC (Oct. 7, 2015)—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Governmental Reform, issued the following statement applauding the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee’s unanimous passage of the Fair Chance Act, a bill Cummings introduced in the House on a bipartisan basis to give the formerly incarcerated a fairer chance at employment:

“I applaud Chairman Johnson, Senator Booker and the Senate Committee Members for unanimously approving this bipartisan legislation. Far too often, a criminal record is like a life sentence, and it is high time for us to build upon successful state and local ban the box policies in places like Maryland and Baltimore. Progress on the Fair Chance Act on the Senate side gives me hope for passage of this commonsense legislation, which will give those leaving the criminal justice system a fair chance to turn their lives around, and to contribute to our economy in a meaningful way.”

Cummings introduced the House version last month with Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), and Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) introduced the Senate version. The bill would prohibit federal contractors and federal agencies from asking about the criminal history of a job applicant until the applicant receives a conditional offer of employment.

Nationwide, states and cities have been implementing “Ban the Box” polices to help people with records overcome the barrier to employment of having to “check the box” about a past criminal conviction on a job application. Eighteen states and over 100 cities and counties have taken action, giving formerly incarcerated people a fairer chance to secure employment. Additionally, companies such as Walmart, Koch Industries, Target, Home Depot, Starbucks, and Bed, Bath & Beyond have embraced these “Ban the Box” policies to more fairly assess job applicants.

Currently, federal law does not prevent federal employers from asking a formerly incarcerated person about their past crimes at any stage of a job interview. The Fair Chance Act would bring the “Ban the Box” initiative to the federal hiring process and would prohibit federal employers and federal contractors from inquiring about criminal history information of a candidate until he or she is given a conditional offer of employment.

The bill is also cosponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Gary Peters (D-MI), as well as Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Cedric Richmond (D-LA), John Conyers (D-MI) and Bobby Scott (D-VA).

The legislation is supported by the Center for Urban Families, Bend the Arc Jewish Action, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Employment Law Project, and the National Black Prosecutors Association.

114th Congress