Showing posts with label John Conyers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label John Conyers. Show all posts

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Congressional Black Caucus Statement on the Passing of Former Congressman John Conyers

The Congressional Black Caucus issued the following statement on the passing of founding CBC Member and Former Congressman John Conyers:

“The Congressional Black Caucus mourns the loss of one of its founding members, the longest-serving African American in Congress, and the former Dean of the House – Congressman John Conyers. A son of Detroit and champion of civil rights, Mr. Conyers lived a life dedicated to serving the community in which he was raised. He leaves a legacy of more than 5 decades of systematic change that continues to transform our country for the better to this day.

"Congressman Conyers was a veteran and soldier in the civil rights movement. After serving in the Michigan National Guard and the United States Army, he turned his efforts to voting rights and participated in the 1963 voter registration effort in Selma, Alabama. He was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1964, with the endorsement of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and immediately tapped Rosa Parks to serve by his side. Congressman Conyers quickly became a trailblazer for liberal issues that eventually became mainstream.

"Just four days after the assassination of Dr. King, Congressman Conyers introduced a bill to create a federal holiday in his honor and reintroduced the bill every year for 15 years until it was signed into law. Mr. Conyers continued his pursuit of voting rights in Congress as a lead co-sponsor of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Mr. Conyers was an ardent opponent of the death penalty and fought for police brutality oversight. Now a major issue in the Democratic Presidential debates, Mr. Conyers was the first to introduce the Expanded and Improved Medicare For All Act, legislation to establish a government-sponsored, single-payer healthcare option to control costs. Mr. Conyers also championed the issue of reparations by introducing a bill to establish a commission to study the issue of slavery and race relations in America, which he fought for consideration every year.

"His fight for justice extended to international issues as well. Mr. Conyers was an early leader in the anti-Vietnam War movement, in addition to the anti-Iraq War movement. He was also a vocal opponent of South Africa’s apartheid policies. Congressman Conyers joined Congressman Ron Dellums and other CBC Members in confronting President Nixon about imposing sanctions against South Africa. When it became clear he would not act, Congressman Conyers joined Congressman Dellums in introducing legislation to that end and was even arrested at a protest in front of the South African embassy.

"Congressman Conyers chaired the Government Oversight and Reform Committee (formerly the Government Operations Committee) and was the first African American to chair the influential Judiciary Committee.

"For the Congressional Black Caucus, Congressman Conyers was more than a founding member. He was a guiding light. We will continue his vision by serving as the “Conscience of the Congress” in pursuit of justice for all Americans. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife, sons, family, and friends.”

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Former Rep. John Conyers dies at 90

Former Rep. John Conyers, a longtime Michigan Democrat who represented parts of Detroit for more than 50 years before his resignation in 2017, died Sunday at age 90, his son, John Conyers III, told CNN.

A founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Conyers was known as pushing a series of liberal causes, especially from his perch on the Judiciary Committee. He at one time served as chairman of the panel.

Conyers was born in Detroit in 1929 and entered Congress in 1965 where he championed the Civil Rights Movement and pushed liberal legislation throughout his tenure.

In 1983, Conyers introduced the original bill to make Martin Luther King Jr. Day a federal holiday and in 1994 worked on the Violence against Women Act. He became the first African American to serve as Chair of the House Judiciary Committee in 2007.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Conyers resigns from Congress amid harassment allegations

Democratic Rep. John Conyers resigned from Congress on Tuesday after a nearly 53-year career, becoming the first Capitol Hill politician to lose his job in the torrent of sexual misconduct allegations sweeping through the nation’s workplaces.

The 88-year-old civil rights leader and longest-serving member of the House announced what he referred to as his “retirement” on Detroit talk radio, while continuing to deny he groped or sexually harassed women who worked for him.

“My legacy can’t be compromised or diminished in any way by what we’re going through now,” said the congressman, who called into the radio show from the hospital where he was taken last week after complaining of lightheadedness. “This, too, shall pass. My legacy will continue through my children.”

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Congressman Emanuel Cleaver: John Conyers will make the 'right decision' and step down

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) predicted on Saturday that Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) would make "the right decision" and resign in the face of sexual misconduct allegations.

"I can tell you that John Conyers right now, at this very moment as we are on this air, is contemplating his future and his legacy," Cleaver, a Congressional Black Caucus member, said on Fox News.

"And I can almost assure you that John Conyers is going to make what I would think is the right decision for his own legacy, and that is to step down and try to enjoy the rest of his life," he added.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Congressional Black Caucus members press Conyers to resign

A group of Democrats including members of the Congressional Black Caucus is privately urging Rep. John Conyers to resign after a third former staffer went public with allegations of sexual harassment against the longtime Michigan Democrat, according to congressional sources.

Members of the CBC are pressing Conyers to step down after 53 years in office, telling him that fellow Democrats are expected to come out and publicly demand he resign. Reps. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) have already done so, and additional Democratic lawmakers were expected to join them as the House returned from the week long Thanksgiving break on Tuesday night.

Conyers was meeting with CBC members late Tuesday afternoon to discuss his future, according to several lawmakers who attended. The CBC was expected to issue a statement on the matter Tuesday night.

"I'm going to let him make his decision," said Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), the CBC chairman. "We had a lengthy discussion."

When asked whether he pushed Conyers to resign, RIchmond said, "I did not ask him to resign." Richmond.

Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) said, "Only he can determine his future."

Conyers did not attend the House votes on Tuesday night, although he was in Washington. Reporters later tweeted a phote of Conyers taking a flight back to Detroit.

There is a divide within the CBC over Conyers, a longtime friend and ally to many of the lawmakers. Some want Conyers to resign immediately, believing that the harassment allegations are credible and the Michigan Democrat can no longer represent his constituents.

Others are upset the Conyers' allegations were first passed to BuzzFeed by a conservative activist who has been involved in ugly conspiracy theories. And still other CBC members feel the Ethics Committee should be allowed to undertake its investigation and report to the House what it turns up before any further steps are taken.

Read more: Black Caucus members press Conyers to resign

Sunday, November 26, 2017

John Conyers statement on stepping down as ranking member of the house judiciary committee

Amid sexual harassment allegations John Conyers has stepped down as the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee. Read his statement on his stepping down below:

After careful consideration and in light of the attention drawn by recent allegations made against me, I have notified the Democratic Leader of my request to step aside as Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee during the investigation of these matters.

I deny these allegations, many of which were raised by documents reportedly paid for by a partisan alt-right blogger. I very much look forward to vindicating myself and my family before the House Committee on Ethics.

To be clear, I would like very much to remain as Ranking Member. There is still much work to be done on core concerns like securing civil rights, enacting meaningful criminal justice reform, and protecting access to the ballot box.

These challenges could not be more pressing in the face of an Administration that cares little for the rule of law and a President whose actions and conduct cheapens our discourse every day.

But I have come to believe that my presence as Ranking Member on the Committee would not serve these efforts while the Ethics Committee investigation is pending.

I cannot in good conscience allow these charges to undermine my colleagues in the Democratic Caucus, and my friends on both sides of the aisle in the Judiciary Committee and the House of Representatives.

I am proud and fortunate to be part of a legacy of more than 50 years of fighting for civil rights and making our country more equitable and just.

I’ll never allow that legacy – a legacy I owe to my father John Conyers, Sr., who integrated labor unions, or my two amazing sons John III & Carl and my loving wife Monica, and the extraordinary people of Detroit – to be cast aside, or these causes to be in any way diminished.

I am grateful to my colleagues who have called for due process before weighing judgment. I would urge them to continue to do so for any Member accused of wrongdoing. Basic fairness requires no less.

Friday, November 24, 2017

John Conyers statement on sexual harassment allegations

Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich) has released the following statement regarding sexual harassment allegations made against him:

“I have long been and continue to be a fierce advocate for equality in the workplace and I fully support the rights of employees who believe they have been harassed or discriminated against to assert claims against their employers. That said, it is important to recognize that the mere making of an allegation does not mean it is true. The process must be fair to both the employee and the accused. The current media environment is bringing a much-needed focus to the important issue of preventing harassment in workplaces across the country. However, equally important to keep in mind in this particular moment is the principle of due process and that those accused of wrongdoing are presumed innocent unless and until an investigation establishes otherwise. In our country, we strive to honor this fundamental principle that all are entitled to due process. In this case, I expressly and vehemently denied the allegations made against me, and continue to do so. My office resolved the allegations – with an express denial of liability – in order to save all involved from the rigors of protracted litigation. That should not be lost in the narrative. The resolution was not for millions of dollars, but rather for an amount that equated to a reasonable severance payment. There are statutory requirements of confidentiality that apply to both the employee and me regarding this matter. To the extent the House determines to look further at these issues, I will fully cooperate with an investigation.”

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

House Ethics panel announces probe of Rep. John Conyers

The House Ethics Committee said Tuesday that it has begun an investigation of sexual harassment allegations against Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.).

A BuzzFeed News report on Monday evening revealed that Conyers settled a wrongful dismissal complaint in 2015 with a former staffer who alleged she was fired because she didn't succumb to his sexual advances.

Former staffers also alleged that Conyers made unwanted sexual advances toward his female aides, touched them inappropriately, used congressional resources to transport women with whom he was suspected of having affairs and complained that a female staffer was "too old" and he wanted to dismiss her.

“The Committee is aware of public allegations that Representative John Conyers, Jr. may have engaged in sexual harassment of members of its staff, discriminated against certain staff on the basis of age, and used official resources for impermissible personal purposes,” Ethics Committee Chairwoman Susan Brooks (R-Ind.) and ranking Democrat Ted Deutch (Fla.) said in a joint statement.

Brooks and Deutch added that the Ethics Committee will refrain from making further public statements on the Conyers investigation pending completion of its initial review.

The committee's announcement comes after House Democratic leaders, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), called for an ethics investigation into the allegations.


Wednesday, August 02, 2017

John Conyers statement on Trump Administration Plans to attack affirmative action

Representatives Bobby Scott (VA-03) and John Conyers, Jr. (MI-13), the ranking members of the House Committees on Education and the Workforce and the Judiciary, respectively, issued the following statement after reports surfaced that the Department of Justice plans to attack and undermine affirmative action programs in colleges and universities.

“While we cannot comment on the veracity of this alleged memo, we are deeply concerned by news reports that the Department of Justice intends to challenge the application of affirmative action programs in colleges and universities. What is already clear is the Trump Administration’s public record of attacking civil rights protections on multiple fronts.

“As ranking members, we led 86 Members of the House in an amicus brief in support of affirmative action programs in higher education. We were one of nearly 70 organizations to take the same position, including retired Chiefs of Staff of our nation’s Armed Services, leading Fortune 500 companies, academics, 19 state governors, the faith community and many others. The position that we took was ultimately affirmed by the Supreme Court – the consideration of race and ethnicity to achieve diversity in admissions is a constitutional and is a compelling state interest that can be achieved through narrowly tailored means.

“Whether it is the Department of Justice’s decision to examine the use of consent decrees with state and local police departments, which are designed to reduce instances of police brutality and discriminatory treatment; Attorney General Session’s decision to return to the harsh application of mandatory minimum sentences which have been proven to be racially discriminatory and counterproductive to reducing crime; the White House’s so-called election integrity commission which purports to “solve” voter fraud while requesting the most personal data of the Nation’s 200 million registered voters; or efforts to weaken the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) – agencies charged with the enforcement of employment nondiscrimination laws, the Trump administration has not wasted any opportunity to roll back existing civil rights protections for underrepresented minorities.

“Further, the Administration’s reactionary efforts were signaled in the White House’s proposed budget to which reduces or eliminated funding tied to the enforcement of federal civil rights laws. The Trump Administration’s budget undermines the constitutional promise of Brown v. Board of Education by cutting federal funding to support public schools that serve our nation’s poorest students. It proposes elimination of the environmental justice program, gutting the primary tool to examine and address the impact of environmental policies and decisions on communities of color, low-income and tribal communities. And proving the adage “any rights without remedies are no rights at all,” the President’s budget proposes eliminating federal funding for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC) that provides civil legal aid for low income Americans to help them have their day in court.

“These actions, already on the record, provide a clear, yet unsettling picture of this Administration’s hostile view of the federal government’s role in protecting civil rights.”

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Veteran Congressman, John Conyers Re-Introduces Legislation for Reparations

In January, 87-year-old lawmaker John Conyers re-introduced updated legislation for the 115th Congress. Now titled The Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act, it's similar to the earlier measure but has been amended to reflect expanded legal and societal discourse about the Transatlantic Slave Trade and reparations.

Read that proposed legislation below:

1st Session
H. R. 40

To address the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies between 1619 and 1865 and to establish a commission to study and consider a national apology and proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery, its subsequent de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against African-Americans, and the impact of these forces on living African-Americans, to make recommendations to the Congress on appropriate remedies, and for other purposes.

January 3, 2017
Mr. Conyers (for himself, Mr. Serrano, Mr. Al Green of Texas, Ms. Norton, Mr. Hastings, Mr. Ellison, Mrs. Beatty, Mr. Lewis of Georgia, Mr. Nadler, Mr. Danny K. Davis of Illinois, Mr. Clay, Mr. GutiĆ©rrez, Mr. Cohen, Mr. Cummings, Mr. Meeks, Ms. Schakowsky, Ms. Jackson Lee, and Ms. Lee) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

To address the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies between 1619 and 1865 and to establish a commission to study and consider a national apology and proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery, its subsequent de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against African-Americans, and the impact of these forces on living African-Americans, to make recommendations to the Congress on appropriate remedies, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
This Act may be cited as the “Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act”.

(a) Findings.—The Congress finds that—
(1) approximately 4,000,000 Africans and their descendants were enslaved in the United States and colonies that became the United States from 1619 to 1865;

(2) the institution of slavery was constitutionally and statutorily sanctioned by the Government of the United States from 1789 through 1865;

(3) the slavery that flourished in the United States constituted an immoral and inhumane deprivation of Africans’ life, liberty, African citizenship rights, and cultural heritage, and denied them the fruits of their own labor;

(4) a preponderance of scholarly, legal, community evidentiary documentation and popular culture markers constitute the basis for inquiry into the on-going effects of the institution of slavery and its legacy of persistent systemic structures of discrimination on living African-Americans and society in the United States; and

(5) following the abolition of slavery the United States Government, at the Federal, State, and local level, continued to perpetuate, condone and often profit from practices that continued to brutalize and disadvantage African-Americans, including share cropping, convict leasing, Jim Crow, redlining, unequal education, and disproportionate treatment at the hands of the criminal justice system; and

(6) as a result of the historic and continued discrimination, African-Americans continue to suffer debilitating economic, educational, and health hardships including but not limited to; having nearly 1,000,000 Black people incarcerated; an unemployment rate more than twice the current White unemployment rate; and an average of less than 116 of the wealth of White families, a disparity which has worsened, not improved over time.

(b) Purpose.—The purpose of this Act is to establish a commission to study and develop Reparation proposals for African-Americans as a result of—
(1) the institution of slavery, including both the Trans-Atlantic and the domestic “trade” which existed from 1565 in colonial Florida and from 1619 through 1865 within the other colonies that became the United States, and which included the Federal and State governments which constitutionally and statutorily supported the institution of slavery;

(2) the de jure and de facto discrimination against freed slaves and their descendants from the end of the Civil War to the present, including economic, political, educational, and social discrimination;

(3) the lingering negative effects of the institution of slavery and the discrimination described in paragraphs (1) and (2) on living African-Americans and on society in the United States;

(4) the manner in which textual and digital instructional resources and technologies are being used to deny the inhumanity of slavery and the crime against humanity of people of African descent in the United States;

(5) the role of Northern complicity in the Southern based institution of slavery;

(6) the direct benefits to societal institutions, public and private, including higher education, corporations, religious and associational;

(7) and thus, recommend appropriate ways to educate the American public of the Commission’s findings;

(8) and thus, recommend appropriate remedies in consideration of the Commission’s findings on the matters described in paragraphs (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), and (6); and

(9) submit to the Congress the results of such examination, together with such recommendations.

(a) Establishment.—There is established the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African-Americans (hereinafter in this Act referred to as the “Commission”).

(b) Duties.—The Commission shall perform the following duties:
(1) Identify, compile and synthesize the relevant corpus of evidentiary documentation of the institution of slavery which existed within the United States and the colonies that became the United States from 1619 through 1865. The Commission’s documentation and examination shall include but not be limited to the facts related to—
(A) the capture and procurement of Africans;

(B) the transport of Africans to the United States and the colonies that became the United States for the purpose of enslavement, including their treatment during transport;

(C) the sale and acquisition of Africans as chattel property in interstate and intrastate commerce;

(D) the treatment of African slaves in the colonies and the United States, including the deprivation of their freedom, exploitation of their labor, and destruction of their culture, language, religion, and families; and

(E) the extensive denial of humanity, sexual abuse and the chatellization of persons.

(2) The role which the Federal and State governments of the United States supported the institution of slavery in constitutional and statutory provisions, including the extent to which such governments prevented, opposed, or restricted efforts of formerly enslaved Africans and their descendents to repatriate to their homeland.

(3) The Federal and State laws that discriminated against formerly enslaved Africans and their descendents who were deemed United States citizens from 1868 to the present.

(4) The other forms of discrimination in the public and private sectors against freed African slaves and their descendents who were deemed United States citizens from 1868 to the present, including redlining, educational funding discrepancies, and predatory financial practices.

(5) The lingering negative effects of the institution of slavery and the matters described in paragraphs (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), and (6) on living African-Americans and on society in the United States.

(6) Recommend appropriate ways to educate the American public of the Commission’s findings.

(7) Recommend appropriate remedies in consideration of the Commission’s findings on the matters described in paragraphs (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), and (6). In making such recommendations, the Commission shall address among other issues, the following questions:
(A) How such recommendations comport with international standards of remedy for wrongs and injuries caused by the State, that include full reparations and special measures, as understood by various relevant international protocols, laws, and findings.

(B) How the Government of the United States will offer a formal apology on behalf of the people of the United States for the perpetration of gross human rights violations and crimes against humanity on African slaves and their descendants.

(C) How Federal laws and policies that continue to disproportionately and negatively affect African-Americans as a group, and those that purpetuate the lingering effects, materially and psycho-social, can be eliminated.

(D) How the injuries resulting from matters described in paragraphs (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), and (6) can be reversed and provide appropriate policies, programs, projects and recommendations for the purpose of reversing the injuries.

(E) How, in consideration of the Commission’s findings, any form of compensation to the descendants of enslaved African is calculated.

(F) What form of compensation should be awarded, through what instrumentalities and who should be eligible for such compensation.

(G) How, in consideration of the Commission’s findings, any other forms of rehabilitation or restitution to African descendants is warranted and what the form and scope of those measures should take.

(c) Report To Congress.—The Commission shall submit a written report of its findings and recommendations to the Congress not later than the date which is one year after the date of the first meeting of the Commission held pursuant to section 4(c).

(a) Number And Appointment.—(1) The Commission shall be composed of 13 members, who shall be appointed, within 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, as follows:
(A) Three members shall be appointed by the President.

(B) Three members shall be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

(C) One member shall be appointed by the President pro tempore of the Senate.

(D) Six members shall be selected from the major civil society and reparations organizations that have historically championed the cause of reparatory justice.

(2) All members of the Commission shall be persons who are especially qualified to serve on the Commission by virtue of their education, training, activism or experience, particularly in the field of African-American studies and reparatory justice.

(b) Terms.—The term of office for members shall be for the life of the Commission. A vacancy in the Commission shall not affect the powers of the Commission and shall be filled in the same manner in which the original appointment was made.

(c) First Meeting.—The President shall call the first meeting of the Commission within 120 days after the date of the enactment of this Act or within 30 days after the date on which legislation is enacted making appropriations to carry out this Act, whichever date is later.

(d) Quorum.—Seven members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum, but a lesser number may hold hearings.

(e) Chair And Vice Chair.—The Commission shall elect a Chair and Vice Chair from among its members. The term of office of each shall be for the life of the Commission.

(f) Compensation.—(1) Except as provided in paragraph (2), each member of the Commission shall receive compensation at the daily equivalent of the annual rate of basic pay payable for GS–18 of the General Schedule under section 5332 of title 5, United States Code, for each day, including travel time, during which he or she is engaged in the actual performance of duties vested in the Commission.
(2) A member of the Commission who is a full-time officer or employee of the United States or a Member of Congress shall receive no additional pay, allowances, or benefits by reason of his or her service to the Commission.

(3) All members of the Commission shall be reimbursed for travel, subsistence, and other necessary expenses incurred by them in the performance of their duties to the extent authorized by chapter 57 of title 5, United States Code.

(a) Hearings And Sessions.—The Commission may, for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this Act, hold such hearings and sit and act at such times and at such places in the United States, and request the attendance and testimony of such witnesses and the production of such books, records, correspondence, memoranda, papers, and documents, as the Commission considers appropriate. The Commission may invoke the aid of an appropriate United States district court to require, by subpoena or otherwise, such attendance, testimony, or production.

(b) Powers Of Subcommittees And Members.—Any subcommittee or member of the Commission may, if authorized by the Commission, take any action which the Commission is authorized to take by this section.

(c) Obtaining Official Data.—The Commission may acquire directly from the head of any department, agency, or instrumentality of the executive branch of the Government, available information which the Commission considers useful in the discharge of its duties. All departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the executive branch of the Government shall cooperate with the Commission with respect to such information and shall furnish all information requested by the Commission to the extent permitted by law.

(a) Staff.—The Commission may, without regard to section 5311(b) of title 5, United States Code, appoint and fix the compensation of such personnel as the Commission considers appropriate.

(b) Applicability Of Certain Civil Service Laws.—The staff of the Commission may be appointed without regard to the provisions of title 5, United States Code, governing appointments in the competitive service, and without regard to the provisions of chapter 51 and subchapter III of chapter 53 of such title relating to classification and General Schedule pay rates, except that the compensation of any employee of the Commission may not exceed a rate equal to the annual rate of basic pay payable for GS–18 of the General Schedule under section 5332 of title 5, United States Code.

(c) Experts And Consultants.—The Commission may procure the services of experts and consultants in accordance with the provisions of section 3109(b) of title 5, United States Code, but at rates for individuals not to exceed the daily equivalent of the highest rate payable under section 5332 of such title.

(d) Administrative Support Services.—The Commission may enter into agreements with the Administrator of General Services for procurement of financial and administrative services necessary for the discharge of the duties of the Commission. Payment for such services shall be made by reimbursement from funds of the Commission in such amounts as may be agreed upon by the Chairman of the Commission and the Administrator.

(e) Contracts.—The Commission may—
(1) procure supplies, services, and property by contract in accordance with applicable laws and regulations and to the extent or in such amounts as are provided in appropriations Acts; and

(2) enter into contracts with departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the Federal Government, State agencies, and private firms, institutions, and agencies, for the conduct of research or surveys, the preparation of reports, and other activities necessary for the discharge of the duties of the Commission, to the extent or in such amounts as are provided in appropriations Acts.
The Commission shall terminate 90 days after the date on which the Commission submits its report to the Congress under section 3(c).
To carry out the provisions of this Act, there are authorized to be appropriated $12,000,000.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Black Caucus Dems take to Senate to protest Sessions

Congressional Black Caucus members led a group of House Democrats to the Senate floor Wednesday in protest of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) for attorney general, the Washington Examiner reported.
“Sen. Sessions may be one of the most incompatible nominees to the Department of Justice that we’ve seen in decades — that department is a department of the vulnerable,” Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) said after exiting the Senate floor.
"It is a department that deals with the issues of civil rights mostly; it deals with the issue of voting rights and the empowerment of women,” the CBC member continued.
“It deals with the issues of protecting those on the question of marriage equality, gender discrimination — and no record has been more potent against all of those issues.”
Democratic Reps. Lacy Clay (Mo.), Hank Johnson (Ga.) and John Conyers Jr. (Mich.), Rosa DeLauro.

Read more:Black Caucus Dems take to Senate to protest Sessions


Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Black congressmen respond to shooting death of Alton Sterling

Several black congressmen/women, such as Rep. John Conyers and Rep. Barbara Lee took to Twitter to respond to the shocking video of Alton Sterling being shot to death by Baton Rouge police. Read their responses below.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Cory Booker Introduces Legislation to Give Formerly Incarcerated a Fair Chance

Washington, DC –  Today, Members of Congress led by U.S. Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) in the Senate and Reps. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD) and Darrell Issa (R-CA), in the House of Representatives,introduced the Fair Chance Act, bipartisan, bicameral legislation that would give formerly incarcerated people a fairer chance at securing employment by prohibiting federal contractors and federal agencies from asking about the criminal history of a job applicant until an applicant receives a conditional offer of employment. Sen. Booker and Rep. Cummings were joined by U.S. Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Joni Ernst (R-IA), along with Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA), 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).
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 felony 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, and Bed, Bath & Beyond have embraced these “Ban the Box” policies to more fairly assess job applicants.
“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,” said Sen. Booker. “There are millions of Americans with records who are quickly passed over by employers without considering their skills or qualifications because of their history. Sadly, this approach only increases the likelihood of recidivism at great cost to taxpayers and communities in New Jersey and across the country. The Fair Chance Act seeks to dismantle this unfair barrier in federal hiring to ensure these Americans are given a second chance and a fairer shot at making a better life for themselves.”
“This commonsense legislation 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,” said Rep. Cummings. “It is high time for us to build upon state and local policies like those in Maryland and Baltimore. 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.”
“Over the last several months, I have had the opportunity to meet with former incarcerated offenders back in Wisconsin,” said Sen. Johnson. “What has struck me most is how challenging we make it for those who truly want to turn their lives around. I want to help make their transition easier. If someone getting out of prison wants to work, wants to be a productive member of society, we should do everything we can to facilitate that. The dignity of work is probably the best way we can keep people from turning back to a life of crime. I’m pleased to work with Senator Booker and Representative Cummings to provide federal leadership on giving people a second chance.”
“About nine percent of Americans – roughly 20 million people — have a felony conviction in the United States,” said Rep. Issa. “Unfortunately, current practice ensures that the 18-year-old who makes a mistake will not only pay for his crime through the justice system, but will continue to be punished for the rest of his life, as he or she is disqualified out-of-hand from consideration for federal employment opportunities, even when qualified for the position. The message we inadvertently end up sending is that those who commit a crime will never be given a second chance.”
“Fair hiring practices help ensure that people who have served their time can reenter the workforce without continuing to be punished for their past mistakes,” said Sen. Brown.  “All Americans deserve the chance to earn a living and make a positive contribution to their communities. These reforms would ensure that they have that chance and help to restore hope and opportunity to those who have served their time and paid their dues to society.”
“Those who have made mistakes and paid their debt to society deserve a chance to move forward and live a productive life,” said Sen. Baldwin. “Yet, far too often, the more than 70 million Americans who have criminal histories face unreasonable employment barriers that stand in the way of contributing to our workforce. This bipartisan effort will help ensure that every American has a fair chance to secure a steady job, support their family and strengthen our communities.”
“We are a nation of opportunity and the Fair Chance Act provides a second chance for Americans with a record who have served their time to pursue employment with the federal government or contractors based on personal merit and qualifications,” said Sen. Ernst. “This bipartisan legislation works to prevent recidivism and encourages reintegration within our communities across the country while also maintaining safeguards for employers and proactively working to protect taxpayer dollars.”
“One of the most difficult parts of coming into the criminal justice system is the journey of coming out of it,” said Rep. Jackson Lee. “For an individual who has paid their debt, the process of re-entering society is paved with tremendous, and often unsurmountable, obstacles. Despite serving time behind bars, formerly incarcerated individuals and those with criminal records continue to face a lengthy and often lifetime sentence upon returning to their communities.  In a nation where one third of our adult population has a criminal record, we must acknowledge and confront the damaging and crippling effects of mass incarceration.  This legislation will not prevent the inquiry all together—employers can ask later in the hiring process—but it will allow candidates to get a foot in the door.”
“With the largest prison population in the world, we must find ways to restore the lives of individuals, their families, and their communities. If someone has served their sentence and attempts a new start in life, they should be given a fair chance to make a positive contribution to their community. The federal government should lead by example. This legislation removes unfair federal hiring barriers for previously incarcerated individuals to help put a stop to the cycle of recidivism,” said Rep. Blumenauer.
“I have dedicated much of my work in public service to reentry issues, and it’s a subject that hits especially close to home having watched members of my family return from incarceration,” said Rep. Watson Coleman. “We can’t expect individuals who have served their time and paid their debts to society to successfully transition back into their communities if their job applications are thrown out before they get the chance to prove their skills. The increased public attention of the past few months has forced us to begin the important work of reforming our criminal justice system ― but that work won’t be complete without changing the way we look at formerly incarcerated individuals once they return to society. This legislation is a vital step, and I’m proud to join my colleagues in supporting it.”
“The most effective way to keep people out of jail is to provide them with a job,” said Rep. Richmond. “Ex-offenders must have the opportunity to make a living and provide for their families legally or they will revert to the same destructive behaviors that led them to prison in the first place. The Fair Chance Act removes the unnecessary barriers for otherwise qualified individuals to find employment and sets the right example for employers throughout the country.”
“Banning the box is the right thing to do for those fighting for a fair opportunity to show their qualifications.  By allowing rehabilitated individuals to provide for themselves and their families, we are helping the national economy, reducing the strain on our justice system, and ensuring that no person’s talents and contributions go to waste,” said Rep Conyers.
“Excessive punishment, bias in the criminal justice system, and poor rehabilitative services leaves our society with huge costs. The fact is, about 1 in 100 adults in this country is in prison – more than any country on this planet,” said Rep. Scott. “A criminal record should not be a blanket denial of an opportunity, but should be considered with regard to the nature of the job, and only at the point where the applicant reaches the conditional offer stage. This bill is a step in the right direction to further policies across the nation, including in my home State of Virginia, to help formerly incarcerated people gain employment and re-enter society.”
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.
Exceptions are made for positions related to law enforcement and national security duties, positions that require access to classified information, or when disclosure before the conditional offer stage is required by law.
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, U.S. Census Bureau, and Bureau of Justice Statistics to issue a report on the employment statistics of formerly incarcerated individuals.

Over 70 million Americans who have criminal histories are faced with the daunting task of securing employment. They face improbable odds in obtaining a job as a result of an arrest or criminal conviction. Studies show that a criminal record reduces the likelihood of a callback or job offer by nearly 50 percent for men in general.  African-American men with criminal records have been 60 percent less likely to receive a callback or job offer than those without records. For individuals trying to turn the page on a difficult chapter in their lives, a criminal conviction poses a substantial barrier to employment.
 In May, Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), led a bipartisan group of 25 of their Senate colleagues in urging President Obama to expand job opportunities and reduce recidivism by taking executive action and requiring federal contractors and federal agencies to “ban the box” on job applications. The letter can be viewedhere.  Also in May, Reps. Cummings, Jackson Lee, Blumenauer, Watson Coleman, Richmond, Conyers, and Scottsigned a similar letter to the President that included signatures from over 70 House Members.  That letter can be viewed here.
 The Fair Chance Act is supported by the Center for Urban FamiliesBend the Arc Jewish Action, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), theLeadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Employment Law Project, and the National Black Prosecutors Association.