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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.

Dominion sends cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Dominion Voting Systems on Monday sent a cease and desist letter to My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell over his spread of misinformation related to the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Trump and several of his allies have pushed false conspiracy theories about the company, leading Dominion to take legal action. It's suing pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for defamation and $1.3 billion in damages, and a Dominion employee has sued Trump himself, OANN and Newsmax.

Off the Rails

Episode 5: The secret CIA plan

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer, Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Zach Gibson/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 5: Trump vs. Gina — The president becomes increasingly rash and devises a plan to tamper with the nation's intelligence command.

In his final weeks in office, after losing the election to Joe Biden, President Donald Trump embarked on a vengeful exit strategy that included a hasty and ill-thought-out plan to jam up CIA Director Gina Haspel by firing her top deputy and replacing him with a protege of Republican Congressman Devin Nunes.

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