House Passes NDAA with Paid Family Leave and Fair Chance Act Amendments
Today, the House of Representatives passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (NDAA) with two landmark provisions, one from Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, the Chairwoman of the Oversight and Reform Committee, to provide paid family leave for federal employees; and one by the late Chairman Elijah E. Cummings to reform the nation’s criminal justice system.
Federal Employee Paid Leave Act
The NDAA includes language based on H.R. 1534, the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act, sponsored by Chairwoman Maloney and co-sponsored by the late Chairman Cummings. The provisions included in the NDAA provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave to federal employees to care for the birth, fostering, or adoption of a child.
“When this bill is signed into law, it will be a tremendous victory for the more than 2 million federal employees across the country,” Chairwoman Maloney said. “Parents will no longer need to choose between being home with their new child or their paychecks. While this agreement is an incredible win for families, it is not perfect. It does not cover paid leave for medical reasons or cover employees outside the federal government. Yesterday, I held my first hearing as permanent chair on this very issue, and it is abundantly clear that all Americans—whether they work for the federal government or a private company—should have access to comprehensive paid family and medical leave. We will continue fighting for all hardworking Americans in the years to come to make this a reality.”
The Federal Employee Paid Leave Act is supported by American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE); American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME); National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU); National Active and Retired Federal Employees (NARFE); National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE); National Partnership for Women and Families; and the Association for American University Women.
Fair Chance Act
The NDAA also includes a bipartisan amendment with language from H.R. 1076, the Fair Chance Act, which was introduced by Chairman Elijah E. Cummings.
“Chairman Cummings introduced the Fair Chance Act to give individuals reentering society from prison a fair chance at truly achieving the American dream and becoming contributing members of our communities,” said Chairwoman Maloney. “These policies are common-sense, bipartisan reforms that have shown potential for reducing recidivism and breaking cycles of crime in many states. This is a fitting tribute to the legacy of Chairman Cummings—he fought for many years to seek not only common ground, but higher ground.”
The Fair Chance Act will:
- Prevent 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 Bureau of Justice Statistics, in coordination with the U.S. Census Bureau, to issue a report on the employment statistics of formerly incarcerated individuals.
More than 70 million Americans with criminal histories face the daunting task of securing employment. They face improbable odds in finding a job as a result of arrests or criminal convictions. 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, criminal convictions pose a substantial barrier to employment.
The Fair Chance Act is supported by the Justice Action Network, National Employment Law Project, ACLU, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the American Conservative Union, Faith & Freedom Coalition, Families Against Mandatory Minimums, Prison Fellowship, FreedomWorks, R Street Institute, Safer Foundation, NAACP, and JustLeadershipUSA.