Cory Anthony Booker (born April 27, 1969) is an American politician serving as the junior United States Senator from New Jersey since 2013 and a member of the Democratic Party. The first African-American U.S. Senator from New Jersey, he was previously the 36th Mayor of Newark from 2006 to 2013. Before that, Booker served on the Municipal Council of Newark for the Central Ward from 1998 to 2002. On February 1, 2019, he announced his campaign to run for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in the 2020 United States presidential election.
Booker was born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Harrington Park, New Jersey. He attended Stanford University, where he received a BA in 1991 and then a master's degree a year later. He studied abroad at the University of Oxford on a Rhodes Scholarship, before attending Yale Law School. He won an upset victory for a seat on the Municipal Council of Newark in 1998, where he staged a 10-day hunger strike and briefly lived in a tent to draw attention to urban development issues in the city. He ran for mayor in 2002, but lost to incumbent Sharpe James; he ran again in 2006 and won against deputy mayor Ronald Rice. His first term saw to the doubling of affordable housing under development and the reduction of the city budget deficit from $180 million to $73 million. He was re-elected in 2010. He ran against Steve Lonegan in the 2013 U.S. Senate special election and subsequently won reelection in 2014 against Jeff Bell.
As senator, his voting record was measured as the third most liberal. Considered a social liberal, Booker supports women's rights, affirmative action, same-sex marriage and single-payer healthcare. During his five years in office, Booker co-sponsored and voted for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (2013), tougher sanctions against Iran, sponsored the Bipartisan Budget Act (2013), voted for the National Defense Authorization Act (2014), co-sponsored the Respect for Marriage Act (2014) and led the successful push to pass the First Step Act (2018). In 2017, he became the first sitting senator to testify against another when he testified against Attorney General nominee Jeff Sessions during his confirmation hearing. In April 2018, following the FBI raid on the offices of Michael Cohenâ€“U.S. President Donald Trump's personal attorneyâ€“Booker together with Chris Coons, Lindsey Graham, and Thom Tillis, introduced the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act to limit the executive powers of President Trump.
Booker has been described as a liberal. Throughout his Senate career, Booker has amassed a liberal voting record. In a July 2013 Salon interview, Booker said that "there's nothing in that realm of progressive politics where you won't find me."
When asked if affirmative action in university admissions should be based on class or race or banned completely, Booker said both race and class should be considered and cited the 2003 US Supreme Court ruling, Grutter v. Bollinger.
In June 2019, Booker and eighteen other Democratic senators sent a letter to USDA Inspector General (IG) Phyllis K. Fong with the request that the IG investigate USDA instances of retaliation and political decision-making and asserted that not conducting an investigation would mean these "actions could be perceived as a part of this administration’s broader pattern of not only discounting the value of federal employees, but suppressing, undermining, discounting, and wholesale ignoring scientific data produced by their own qualified scientists."
According to the Humane Society, Booker has the most pro-animal welfare voting record in the Senate year after year.
In June 2018, Booker joined with the Senate's other two black members, Kamala Harris, Democrat of California, and Tim Scott, Republican of South Carolina, to introduce a bill to make lynching a federal hate crime. Sixteen other Senators signed on as the initial cosponsors, and the bill was supported by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky. Between 1882 and 1986, nearly 200 anti-lynching bills were introduced in Congress, yet none had passed the Senate until this bill passed unanimously on December 19, 2018. The bill was referred to the House of Representatives where it died for lack of action by that body.
Budget Cut Newark
When Cory Booker became Mayor of Newark, New Jersey in 2006, he was facing a $180 million budget crisis. When he left his office in 2013, he left the city with a balanced budget for the first time in a decade, twice as much affordable housing, two new hotels, a spate of made-over parks, a new residential tower, two (possibly three) new office towers, $150 million educational complex in the heart of Newark's downtown, and a larger population than when he entered office. He managed to balance the budget by raising taxes 20%, laying off hundreds of cops, cutting spending, and working with private sector-led urban development from wealthy investors.
Booker supports smart spending and investment now with long-term deficit reduction efforts to ensure economic prosperity.
In June 2019, Booker was one of twenty-eight senators to sign a letter led by Brian Schatz to United States Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross warning that Ross would "further delay and jeopardize the Census Bureau’s ability to conduct a full, fair, and accurate decennial census as required by the U.S. Constitution and the Census Act" by continuing to attempt adding the citizenship question to 2020 census materials. The senators urged Ross to "allow the Census Bureau to proceed with preparation for a 2020 census without a citizenship question on the questionnaire."
In 2019, Booker and 34 other senators introduced the Child Care for Working Families Act, a bill that created 770,000 new child care jobs and that ensured families under 75 percent of the state median income did not pay for child care with higher earning families having to pay "their fair share for care on a sliding scale, regardless of the number of children they have." The legislation also supported universal access to high-quality preschool programs for all 3 and 4-year-olds and gave the child care workforce a changed compensation and training to aid both teachers and caregivers.
He has called for amending the Patriot Act and said he was "troubled" by the revelations of the scope of the National Security Agency's secret spy programs, but has shied away from specifics. He voted for the USA Freedom Act which re-authorized certain provisions of the Patriot Act in modified form.
Booker accepts the scientific consensus that climate change is man-made and supports cap-and-trade or carbon tax approach in dealing with greenhouse gas emissions.
Booker is in favor of creating so-called "baby bonds", whereby newborns would be given low-risk savings accounts (managed by the Treasury) that would be worth tens of thousands of dollars by the age of 18. According to an analysis by Naomi Zwede of the Center on Social Policy and poverty at Columbia University, the baby bonds almost entirely close the racial wealth gap among young people.
In May 2012, Booker defended Bain Capital's record and criticized Obama's attack on private equity. In response, the Republican National Committee, created a petition called "I Stand With Cory Booker".
In February 2019, Booker was one of eight senators to sign a letter to the Federal Communications Commission and Department of Justice advocating for regulators to renounce a proposed $26 billion merger between T-Mobile and Sprint, writing that American enforcers have understood for the last thirty years "that fostering robust competition in telecommunications markets is the best way to provide every American with access to high-quality, cutting-edge communications at a reasonable price" and the merger would result in a return for "Americans to the dark days of heavily consolidated markets and less competition, with all of the resulting harms."
Booker sits on the board of advisers of the political action committee Democrats for Education Reform, was on the board of Alliance for School Choice until 2008, co-founded the Excellent Education For Everyone, a board member of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, and has spoken favorably of StudentsFirst. He is an advocate of education reform and privatization of education; supporting things such as charter schools, school vouchers, and merit pay for teachers. In September 2010, with the support of Governor Chris Christie, Booker obtained a $100 million pledge from Facebook Inc. founder Mark Zuckerberg to Newark Public Schools.
"Booker championed "enterprise zones," a free-market approach to solving urban blight credited to the late Jack Kemp, a hard-core supply-sider and occasional Republican presidential contender who helped raise money for Booker's first mayoral campaign."
Besides social media advances, Booker wants to see the rest of the tech sector reach its fullest potential, and to do that, he thinks the U.S. government needs to ease up on regulations. "We're not moving at the speed of innovation due to regulations," he said, adding that because of this, key industries are leaving the U.S. to work on projects in other countries where the rules aren't as strict. For example, the Federal Aviation Administration has hindered drone innovation to the point where drone companies are leaving the U.S. to test and build in Europe. "We're being left behind on everything from next-generation nuclear energy to driverless cars and biologics," Booker said, "and we cannot get left behind."
In March 2019, Booker and thirty-eight other senators signed a letter to the Appropriations Committee opining that contractor workers and by extension their families "should not be penalized for a government shutdown that they did nothing to cause" while noting that there were bills in both chambers of Congress that if enacted would provide back pay to compensate contractor employees for lost wages before urging the Appropriations Committee "to include back pay for contractor employees in a supplemental appropriations bill for FY2019 or as part of the regular appropriations process for FY2020."
Booker has publicly defended the right of law-abiding citizens to own legal fire arms and blames most shootings on criminals with illegal guns. He voted to prohibit people on terror watch lists from buying guns. Booker has cosponsored legislation in the 115th Congress and 116th Congress authored by Senator Dianne Feinstein to ban assault weapons.
Booker has called the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act imperfect, said it needs to be improved, and wants to control health care costs. He opposes cutting Medicare, he supports expanding the program, and he supports transitioning to a "Medicare-for-all"-style single-payer healthcare system.
In September 2017, Booker joined Bernie Sanders and 14 other cosponsors in submitting a single-payer health care plan to Congress called the "Medicare for All" bill. The plan also covers vision and dental care, not currently covered by Medicare.
In April 2019, Booker was one of forty-one senators to sign a bipartisan letter to the housing subcommittee praising the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development's Section 4 Capacity Building program as authorizing "HUD to partner with national nonprofit community development organizations to provide education, training, and financial support to local community development corporations (CDCs) across the country" and expressing disappointment that President Trump's budget "has slated this program for elimination after decades of successful economic and community development." The senators wrote of their hope that the subcommittee would support continued funding for Section 4 in Fiscal Year 2020.
In November 2017, as Democratic senators lobbied for the Senate to pass a bill by the end of year ensuring the continuation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Booker commented, "These are hardworking young people who were brought to this country as kids by their parents — they don’t know any other home but the United States. I want solutions to protect these kids, and won’t vote for a spending bill that doesn’t include one."
In June 2018, Booker was one of eight senators to sponsor a bill amending the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to include a mandate forcing farmers to pay workers time and a half for each hour worked past the standard 40-hour work week.
In July 2019, Booker signed a letter to United States Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta that advocated for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration to initiate a full investigation into a complaint filed on May 20 by a group of Chicago-area employees of McDonald's, which detailed workplace violence incidents that included interactions with customers such as customers throwing hot coffee and threatening employees with firearms and more. The senators argued that McDonald's could and needed to "do more to protect its employees, but employers will not take seriously their obligations to provide a safe workplace if OSHA does not enforce workers rights to a hazard-free workplace."
Booker is a strong, outspoken advocate of same-sex marriage and claimed New Jersey's civil union law was not only bigoted, but also discriminated against New Jersey's same-sex couples who were denied 1,100 federal rights, privileges and benefits afforded to married couples. After Governor Chris Christie vetoed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in New Jersey and said the issue should be left to a public referendum of the people of New Jersey, Booker criticized him and said that civil rights are guaranteed by the US Constitution and should not be allowed on the ballot. As Newark Mayor, Booker refused to perform any marriage ceremonies until same-sex couples were legally allowed to marry in New Jersey. On October 21, 2013, 12:01 am, the date when same-sex marriage became legal in New Jersey, Booker began performing same-sex and opposite-sex marriages in New Jersey.
Booker supports an increase of the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Speaking to Newark airport workers in May 2017 he said, "It is un-American to be in this country, to work a full-time job and still live in poverty. That is unacceptable. The minimum wage working at a lot of these contract companies only affords them about $22,000 a year ... You cannot live and raise a family on $22,000 a year. You can't afford housing, you can't afford child care and since your company isn't helping you with retirement, you can't save for retirement."
In April 2019, Booker was one of twelve Democratic senators to sign a letter led by Mazie Hirono that questioned the decision of Attorney General William Barr to offer "his own conclusion that the President’s conduct did not amount to obstruction of justice" and called for both the Justice Department’s inspector general and the Office of Professional Responsibility to launch an investigation into whether Barr's summary of the Mueller Report and his April 18 news conference were misleading.
In May 2014, days before the FCC was scheduled to rewrite its net neutrality rules, Booker was one of eleven senators to sign a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler charging Wheeler's proposal with destroying net neutrality instead of preserving it and urged the FCC to "consider reclassifying Internet providers to make them more like traditional phone companies, over which the agency has clear authority to regulate more broadly."
In June 2019, Booker was one of eight senators to cosponsor the bipartisan Save our Seas 2.0 Act, a bill unveiled by Dan Sullivan and Bob Menendez intended to spur innovation along with aiding in the reduction plastic waste's creation and both find ways to use already existing plastic waste to stop it from entering the oceans and address this problem on a global scale. The bill was meant to respond to the plastic pollution crisis threatening oceans, shorelines, marine life, and coastal economies and served as a continuation of the Save Our Seas Act.
In February 2017, Booker and thirty other senators signed a letter to Kaléo Pharmaceuticals in response to the opioid-overdose-reversing device Evzio rising in price from $690 in 2014 to $4,500 and requested the company answer what the detailed price structure for Evzio was, the number of devices Kaléo Pharmaceuticals set aside for donation, and the totality of federal reimbursements Evzio received in the previous year.
Booker submitted a bill in The Senate to "study" reparations but has not actively pushed for any implementation of reparations for slavery beyond a study.
While running for Senate, Booker said he opposed raising the retirement age for social security except for people in their 20s or younger. Booker later tweeted that he opposed all cuts to Social Security and would expand the program.
As mayor of Newark, New Jersey, Booker raised taxes by 20 percent but now seeks to cut municipal taxes. He supports taxes on carbon emissions, lowering corporate taxes, and tax incentives. He endorsed Governor Chris Christie's property tax agenda.
On April 10, 2019, Booker, fellow Senator Ron Wyden, and Representative Yvette Clarke introduced the Algorithmic Accountability Act of 2019, legislation granting additional powers to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in addition to forcing companies to study whether race, gender or other biases influence their technology.
In May 2019 during a TV interview, Booker disagreed with Elizabeth Warren's call to break up big tech companies and said, "I don't think that a president should be running around, pointing at companies and saying breaking them up without any kind of process here... we do not need a president that is going to use their own personal beliefs and tell you which companies we should break up. We need a president that's going to enforce antitrust laws..."
In April 2019, Booker signed onto the Be HEARD Act, legislation intended to abolish the tipped minimum wage along with ending mandatory arbitration and pre-employment nondisclosure agreements. The bill also gave workers additional time to report harassment and was said by cosponsor Patty Murray to come at a time when too many workers are "still silenced by mandatory disclosure agreements that prevent them from discussing sexual harassment and longstanding practices like the tipped wages that keep workers in certain industries especially vulnerable."
According to Booker's campaign website, he supports scaling down US armed forces in Afghanistan in a responsible and safe manner. On June 19, 2019, Booker said: "We need to bring our American troops home. We cannot have forever wars in this nation".
In April 2019, Booker was one of thirty-four senators to sign a letter to President Trump encouraging him "to listen to members of your own Administration and reverse a decision that will damage our national security and aggravate conditions inside Central America", asserting that Trump had "consistently expressed a flawed understanding of U.S. foreign assistance" since becoming president and that he was "personally undermining efforts to promote U.S. national security and economic prosperity" through preventing the use of Fiscal Year 2018 national security funding. The senators argued that foreign assistance to Central American countries created less migration to the U.S., citing the funding's helping to improve conditions in those countries.
On May 12, 2019, Booker said: "The Chinese have been taking advantage of this country and other nations on the planet Earth. They do not fight fair. They steal our intellectual property. They force the transfer of technology. ... They unfairly subsidize industries to undercut the market for other countries."
According to Booker's campaign website, Iran poses a threat to American and Israeli security. He wants all options, including military action, that prevents Iran from gaining nuclear weapons. In December 2013, Booker was one of the original cosponsors of Bob Menéndez's Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013, which would toughen sanctions against Iran.
Booker's decision to back the Iran nuclear deal framework, damaged his long term relationship with Jewish supporters. Booker initiated an emergency summit for Jewish leaders in attempt to reduce the damage, but some of his long standing supporters did not attend.
In July 2017, Booker voted in favor of the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act that grouped together sanctions against Iran, Russia and North Korea. In 2019, Booker criticized Trump's administration for escalating tensions with Iran. Booker's spokesperson said it would be illegal for the Trump administration to rely on a 2001 law that authorized the use of U.S. Armed Forces against those responsible for the September 11 attacks and any "associated forces".
In February 2017, Booker was one of eleven senators to sign a letter to United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions expressing their concern "about credible allegations that the Trump campaign, transition team, and Administration has colluded with the Russian government, including most recently the events leading to the resignation of Lieutenant General Michael Flynn as National Security Adviser." The senators requested the creation of "an independent Special Counsel to investigate collusion with the Russian government by General Flynn and other Trump campaign, transition and Administrative officials" in order to maintain "the confidence, credibility and impartiality of the Department of Justice".