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Second Chance to Get FBI Backgrond Check Bill Right

 

Expanded Background Checks Junked

In 2009, the National Employment Law Project released a report saying that FBI background check records were often incomplete or inaccurate, harming thousands of job seekers. U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., said he’d introduce a bill that would require the FBI to verify and correct criminal information before issuing an employment background check.

Fast forward four years. NELP, a workers’ advocacy group, recently issued another report saying the same thing about FBI background checks. And Rep. Scott has reintroduced his bill to fix the problem. Apparently, his previous bill, introduced in 2010, went nowhere.

This isn’t Obamacare, immigration reform, gun control or the federal budget. This one should be a slam dunk, a no-brainer.

Over the years, Congress has mandated FBI background checks for an increasing number of jobs: federal workers, truck drivers who haul hazardous material, port workers, health care workers, school employees and more. It’s up to Congress to mandate that those FBI records are accurate.

The latest NELP report notes that employers requested about 17 million FBI background checks last year — up sixfold since Sept. 11, 2001 — and that inaccurate records potentially harmed 1.8 million Americans’ ability to get a job. That’s inexcusable. Since the FBI checks are considered the “gold standard” of background checks, their accuracy and trustworthiness should be gold-plated.

Both NELP reports pointed out that the government already mandates accuracy in FBI background checks for firearms purchases, so it has a model for requiring the same for employment background checks.

Congress had the chance to correct this problem in 2010. It failed. Lawmakers need to get it right this time.

 
 
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