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Photo: Tom Williams/Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) tells Axios he'll introduce legislation this week requiring companies with business overseas to certify that their supply chains are free of forced labor — and he's especially concerned about China.

The state of play: "If these reports from anti-trafficking advocates, anti-slavery advocates are wrong, then the companies will have a chance to set the record straight," Hawley said in an interview. "But they will be held accountable."

  • Hawley also plans to challenge celebrities who endorse the products: "I would hope that anybody who is profiting on that would want to push companies to certify that they're not benefiting from slave labor."

Hawley said multinational corporations "shift our jobs overseas, or they move their supply chains overseas, then they sell them to American consumers and they get celebrities to hawk them on TV."

  • "Just because you are publicly donating money to this or that nonprofit doesn't mean that it's OK to profit off slave labor," the senator added.

Details: The bill requires every corporation with annual worldwide gross receipts of $500 million or more to conduct an audit of its supply chain to investigate the presence or use of forced labor — by the business, or its direct and secondary suppliers.

  • Businesses would submit a report to the Labor Department each year — signed by the CEO — describing efforts to eradicate forced labor from their supply chains.
  • Hawley wants the report to be published on the company's website, with a conspicuous link on the homepage.

From Hawley's plan: "The [Labor secretary] may assess civil damages of not more than $100 million to any corporation that fails the comply with the act, plus punitive damages of not more than $500 million."

  • "[T]he secretary may request the Attorney General institute an injunction, restraining order, or other appropriate order in the district court for any corporation whose violations of the act constitute a hazard to its workers."
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Go deeper

Updated Oct 9, 2020 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation following the vice presidential debate

On Friday, October 9 Axios' Mike Allen and Niala Boodhoo hosted a conversation unpacking the news of the day and reactions to the debate between Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris, featuring Sen. Tim Kaine, Sen. Josh Hawley and Rep. Katie Porter.

Sen. Tim Kaine discussed Democrats' priorities going into November, his experience on the campaign trail in 2016, and what's at stake in this election.

  • On the two things driving a significant uptick in early voter turnout: "One, people understand the stakes are so high this election...[Two], people are worried about the pandemic and coronavirus. They like having more options about how to vote."
  • On the experience of running for Vice President: "Everything I learned about the job (of running mate), I learned from Joe Biden...[He] never let there be public disagreement between he and Barack Obama, even though there was private disagreement."

Focusing on his role on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Josh Hawley unpacked his views on the Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett and the upcoming election.

  • On the Senate Judiciary Committee's questions about Amy Coney Barrett's religious background: "[Senator Harris] needs to lead the charge...She needs to say she was wrong to impose a religious test and she and her colleagues need to pledge that they will not do it."
  • His view of Joe Biden's record: "He's a liberal globalist, and that's exactly what he'll do as president of the United States. That really should be the central issue of this campaign."

Rep. Katie Porter discussed her reaction to the vice presidential debate and the state of American politics.

  • On the current political climate motivating people to run for office: "We're seeing a lot of people step up and run. I think people are feeling like it's time to try to fix some of this...We're seeing it in local candidates, more women than ever before running or diverse candidates running."
  • On the response to the pandemic: "[The Trump administration] has really demonstrated why having leaders who believe in science matters. At every turn, we've had problems with honoring science, with putting data and research first."

Thank you Bank of America for sponsoring this event.

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Winter view from Charlotte as winter storm Izzy creates dangerous conditions in Charlotte, N.C. on Jan. 16. Photo: Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A major winter storm was lashing much of the East Coast on Sunday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The big picture: Heavy snow and ice accumulations are "likely to produce hazardous travel," downed trees and more power outages from the Mid-South to the Northeast, per the National Weather Service. Some parts of the U.S. can expect to see up to a foot of snow through Monday.

Updated 4 hours ago - Science

Volcanic eruption in Tonga caused "significant" damage

This satellite image of the eruption on Jan. 15 taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite operated by Japan Meteorological Agency and released by National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT). Photo: NICT via AP

Significant damage has been reported in Tonga following an undersea volcanic eruption on Saturday, which covered the Pacific nation in ash and cut off communication lines.

Driving the news: The eruption triggered tsunami warnings across Tonga's islands and in other regions, including the West Coast of the U.S. and New Zealand.

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