Since winning his special election in October 2013, Senator Cory Booker has become vocal in the U.S. Senate not only for New Jersey citizens but also people of color. Sen. Booker’s committee assignments include the coveted Communications, Technology and the Internet Subcommittee within the Senate Commerce Committee. Also known for being an avid tweeter, it’s no surprise that Senator Booker’s agenda includes increasing tech engagement and access for all including our communities.
First, Senator Booker plans to increase diversity in the tech industry. He has been a vocal supporter of increasing STEM curriculum in the United States to create a pipeline for those interested in STEM careers. “If the United States is going to effectively compete in the global economy, we need to increase our STEM workforce and increase the diversity of that workforce,” said Sen. Booker. “This means providing our youth with access to rigorous STEM curriculum as early as grade school. We also need to make sure tech companies are recruiting and offering internships to women and minority students.” In addition, in the past Sen. Booker has become a frequent visitor to tech conferences such as South by Southwest and forged relationships in Silicon Valley which will prove to be vital if he has future plans for assisting with building that pipeline.
Second, Sen. Booker has banned with leading Senate Democrats to support having a free and open internet. He has been outspoken for his support of Title II and reclassifying broadband as a public utility. He was recently quoted saying, “If somebody wants to show me a better way to keep the Internet open and free, I’m willing to have an open mind about it, but I just don’t see a pathway there but through Title II.” Not only was Sen. Booker an active participant during the Senate Commerce hearing on net neutrality on January 21, he also joined his colleagues in voicing his opinion on net neutrality rules in a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.
Lastly, Sen. Booker wants to make sure that everyone has access to the internet. Most recently, Sen. Booker and his colleagues Sens. Edward Markey and Claire McCaskill introduced the Community Broadband Act. This act will preserve the rights of cities and localities to build municipal broadband networks and provide an affordable, reliable option for rural and low-income communities. “As Mayor of Newark, I saw firsthand the value of empowering local communities to invest and innovate. The Community Broadband Act provides cities the flexibility they need to meet the needs of their residents,” Sen. Booker said. “This legislation will enhance economic development, improve access to education and health care services, and provide increased opportunity to individuals in underserved areas. At a time when local governments are looking for ways to ensure their communities are connected and have access to advanced and reliable networks, the Community Broadband Act empowers local governments to respond to this ever-increasing demand.”
As the tech and internet debates continue to heat up in Washington, all eyes will be on Sen. Booker.