Booker on Poverty

Booker has been an outspoken advocate against poverty and wealth inequality throughout his years as a public servant. He has repeatedly fought for increasing work the minimum wage to $15 an hour at the federal level.

In December 2018, Booker introduced a bill that would create a “baby bond” program to close our nation’s racial wealth gap. The bill, American Opportunity Accounts Act, would provide a $1,000 federal account to every child born in the U.S. The account, which could not be accessed until the individuals turned 18 and would be managed by the Treasury, would earn a small annual return. Children could receive up to an additional $2,000 each year from the government depending on a family’s income. Children from poorer families (most of whom in the U.S. are African American, Latino and Native American) would receive relatively higher payments. A child born into poverty could end up with about $46,000 by the time she or he became an adult. The money could only be used for certain “wealth-building” purposes, including paying for college tuition, retirement savings or purchasing a home.

In his own words:

  • “It is un-American to be in this country, to work a full-time job and still live in poverty.”

  • “Dramatic disparities in income are happening where you have a third of families in America that have no transferrable wealth or negative transferrable wealth to their children. And our laws right now are designed to benefit wealthier Americans.”

Booker on Civil Rights

Booker is a strong advocate for civil rights, including for LGBTQ rights. During his first seven years as mayor of Newark, N.J., he turned down requests to officiate weddings to protest marriage inequality. As he explained to a reporter in 2013, the year that same-sex marriage was legalized in the state: “I made a decision...that I wasn't going to marry anybody until I could marry everybody.” In 2017, Booker helped introduce the Equality Act. The bill would add sexual orientation and gender identity to other protected classes, such as race or religion, in existing federal laws, ensuring full federal non-discrimination equality.

In 2018, Booker helped introduce a bill to make lynching a federal hate crime. On December 18, after nearly 100 years of failed attempts, the Senate unanimously approved the legislation.

In his own words:

  • “It is unacceptable that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans are not fully protected from discrimination under federal law.”

  • “We're all equal under the law.”

  • “The civil rights movement in America is not a relic of history, it is a constant exercise in making our nation more perfect and more just.”

Booker on Criminal Justice Reform

When he came to Washington in 2013, one of Booker’s top priorities was, and has remained, criminal justice reform. He has been a prominent voice for changing the way convicted felons are sentenced and how they are treated upon release. Booker was instrumental to making history as one of the six original Senate sponsors of a landmark bill to reform the criminal justice system. In December 2018, the Senate passed the First Step Act, which aims to reduce the number of nonviolent offenders behind bars, a population disproportionately consisting of people of color, many of whom are in the system due to non-violent drug crimes. Under the First Step Act, judges can now hand out lighter sentences to those convicted of nonviolent drug crimes. Additionally a third offense will no longer guaranteed ticket to life imprisonment, and most juveniles will no longer face solitary confinement.

In his own words:

  • “Our country’s criminal justice system is broken—and it has been broken for decades. You cannot deny justice to any American without it affecting all Americans. That’s why the passage of the First Step Act is so meaningful—it begins to right past wrongs that continue to deny justice to millions of Americans.”

Booker on Education

Since his days as mayor of Newark, Booker has championed education reform and continues to fight to ensure that every American has equal access to a high-quality education. In 2010, Booker obtained a $100 million-pledge from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to support and improve Newark Public Schools. In 2015, Booker helped introduce America’s College Promise Act, which would make two years of community college free and provide an affordable pathway for low-income students to a four-year college degree.

In 2018, Booker helped introduce several pieces of education-related legislation, including bills to: extend educational benefits for student veterans; streamline the financial aid process by making it easier for more low-income students to apply, and qualify, for federal student aid; encourage higher education institutions to remove criminal and juvenile justice questions from their admissions applications, and a bill to reverse the nation’s growing teacher shortage.

In his own words:

  • “Our nation cannot continue to be the world’s number one economy if we aren’t committed to being the world’s number one educator.”

  • “I believe that access to a high-quality public education is a fundamental American right and that fully realizing the genius of our children is vital to the health of our economy and a strong and secure future for our country.”

Booker on the Environment

Booker has been vocal on the importance of safeguarding the environment and fighting against climate change. Among other measures, he supports cap-and-trade or carbon tax approach in dealing with greenhouse gas emissions and pursuing clean energy. He has stood up for cleaner, healthier communities as a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee.

In 2017, Booker introduced a bill, the Environmental Justice Act, that would make it easier for low-income neighborhoods and communities of color to block projects that would add to pollution. The bill aims to expand protections to communities burdened by developments that cause environmental problems and impact the health of residents.

In 2018, Booker co-sponsored the Climate Risk Disclosure Act, a bill aimed at using market forces to speed up the transition from fossil fuels to cleaner energy. The bill requires public companies to disclose critical information about their exposure to climate-related risks.

In his own words:

  • “Climate change is one of the greatest threats we face. Rising seas, more intense weather, and warming temperatures will continue to have increasing and significant impacts on our country's infrastructure and economy. Equipping investors with a better understanding of the climate-related risks facing America's public companies will enable smarter and safer investment decisions, provide greater long-term stability to the American economy, and help our nation fight climate change.”

  • “Many communities across the country are facing environmental and public health threats that for too long have gone unaddressed...This is unacceptable.”

Booker on Health Care

Booker supports the ACA’s goal of ensuring access to affordable, quality health care for all Americans and continues to work to improve the law. He is a proponent of monitoring and driving down the cost of health care and health insurance.

Booker opposes cutting Medicare and supports expanding the program. In 2017, Booker co-sponsored a single-payer health care plan to Congress. The plan, called the “Medicare for All” bill, also covers vision and dental care, which are not currently covered by Medicare. In 2018, Booker co-sponsored the Choose Medicare Act. The Act aims to expand public options for health insurance and includes increasing Affordable Care Act subsidies. The act would also make assistance available to individuals with higher income levels then those eligible under the current law.

In December 2018, Booker introduced a bill known as the “Medicaid Drug Decisions Transparency Act,” to highlight certain tactics drugmakers use to profit off state Medicaid programs by influencing their drug coverage decisions, including giving payments and perks to doctors serving on those boards. The measure would require pharmaceutical companies to disclose their payments to pharmacists and others who serve on state Medicaid drug boards.

In his own words:

  • “Health care is a human right.”

  • “We cannot be a country that believes in life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness if people do not have access to health care.”

  • “The nefarious tactics that drug companies use to influence state Medicaid programs’ drug coverage decisions are dishonest and disturbing.”

Booker on Racial Healing/ Reconciliation

Booker has been a leading voice among U.S. elected officials calling for racial healing and reconciliation in our country. In 2017, he introduced a bicameral bill with Rep. Barbara Lee to  remove Confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol. Booker said in a statement to CNN that having to see Confederate statues in a position of honor in a place as public as the Capitol can be “painful.” The Confederate Monument Removal Act would remove all statues of people who voluntarily served the Confederate States of America from the National Statuary Hall Collection.

In his own words:

  • “They are, unequivocally, not only statues of treasonous Americans, but are symbolic to some who seek to revise history and advance hate and division.”

  • “To millions of Americans, [the Confederate statues] are painful, injurious symbols of bigotry and hate, celebrating individuals who sought to break our nation asunder and preserve the vile institution of slavery and white supremacy.”

  • “These Confederate statues belong in a museum where they can be given proper historical context, not venerated in the U.S. Capitol."

Booker on Workers and Labor Unions

Booker has been a long-time, staunch supporter of workers and labor unions. The AFL-CIO gives him an overall 100% score and 100% “voted with working people” rating.

In 2012, while mayor of Newark, N.J., Booker endorsed union officials seeking to represent about 21,000 privately employed security officers who worked throughout the state.

In spring 2018, he introduced legislation calling for a pilot job guarantee in 15 cities and regions. The Federal Jobs Guarantee Development Act would create a three-year pilot program through which the Department of Labor would select up to 15 local areas and offer those area funding. The funding would guarantee a job paying at least $15 an hour to every adult living there.

In June 2018, Booker was one of eight senators to sponsor a bill amending the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. The bill called for including a mandate forcing growers and agricultural companies to pay workers time and a half for each hour worked past the standard 40-hour work week. According to the bill’s report, African American and Latino field workers are still disproportionately impacted by many of the original exclusions.

In August 2018, Booker joined 22 other U.S. Senators in a letter calling on Boeing to honor the decision of flight line workers in North Charleston who had voted earlier that spring to unionize.

In his own words:

  • Regarding privately employed security officers in N.J. in 2012: “These are actually jobs on the front line of securing our state, securing our cities, securing our businesses and our communities,” Booker said. “We can not afford to have these workers underpaid.”

  • On federal jobs guarantee: “The federal jobs guarantee is an idea that demands to be taken seriously...Creating an employment guarantee would give all Americans a shot at a day’s work and, by introducing competition into the labor market, raise wages and improve benefits for all workers.”

+ Sources

Sen. Cory Booker Says ‘Baby Bonds’ Could Help Close the Income Gap, Yahoo, November 2018
Booker Announces New Bill Aimed at Combating Wealth Inequality, Senator Cory Booker Office Press Release, October 2018
American Opportunity Accounts Act-Video by Cory Booker, Cory Booker Facebook Page, Fall 2018
Cory Booker: Building on the Success of the War on Poverty, Wall Street Journal, January 2014
Priorities: Civil Rights, Senator Cory Booker Website
Booker, Merkley, Baldwin Introduce Historic, Comprehensive LGBT Non-Discrimination Bill, Senator Cory Booker Office Press Release, May 2017
Sen. Cory Booker: The Equality Act Is a Huge Step Forward for America, Mic, July 2015
Cory Booker Weds Same-Sex Couples In Newark, Shuts Down Heckler, BuzzFeed, October 2013 Senate Unanimously Approves Bill to Make Lynching a Federal Hate Crime, Washington Post, December 2018
Priorities: Justice and Public Safety, Senator Cory Booker Website
Incarceration and the Criminal Justice System, C-SPAN, February 2018
Booker Statement on Senate Passage of Landmark Criminal Justice Reform Bill, Senator Cory Booker Office Press Release, December 2018
Cory Booker, After Touring a Prison, Renews Call for Criminal Justice Overhaul, NY Times, August 2016
Cory Booker On How America's Criminal Justice System Destroys the American Dream, Vox, March 2015
Priorities: Education, Senator Cory Booker Website
Booker Unveils Bill To Extend Education Benefits For Veterans, NJ Biz, November 2018
Bill Would Expand Student Aid to More Low-Income Students, CLASP, November 2018
74 Interview: Sen. Cory Booker on Teacher Quality, Celebrity Star Power, and Why His Newark School Reforms Were Actually a Success, 74Million.Org, September 2018
Legislators Introduce ‘Beyond the Box for Higher Education Act’, Big Island Now, September 2018
Booker Bill Aims To Reverse Growing Teacher Shortage, NJ TV Online, February 2018
Newark Mayor Cory Booker: Education Key to Economy, CNN, September 2012
Priorities: Environment and Energy, Senator Cory Booker Website
Booker Bill Takes Aim At Environmental Injustices, NJ TV Online, October 2017
Environmental Justice: The New Civil Rights?, NJ Spotlight, October 2017
Cory Booker: Majority of Nation Believes In Climate Change, Except Republican Leadership, SiriusXM, April 2017
Priorities: Health Care, Senator Cory Booker Website
Booker Introduces Bill to Shine Light on Pharma’s Efforts to Manipulate Medicaid Drug Coverage Decisions, Senator Cory Booker Office Press Release, December 2018
Sen. Cory Booker: No Liberty without Affordable Health Care, Families USA website, January 2018
Cory Booker: It’s Time To Get Covered—What We Have To Lose If The Trump Administration Limits Health Care, Essence, November 2017
Sen. Cory Booker On Health Care And The Democrats' Future, NPR, June 2017
Booker, Lee Introduce Bicameral Bill to Remove Confederate Statues From Capitol, Senator Cory Booker Office Press Release, September 2017
There Are Confederate Statues On Capitol Hill. Cory Booker Has A Bill That Removes Them., CNN, August 2017
Pelosi, Booker Push For Removal Of Capitol’s Confederate Statues, Politico, August 2017

Cory Booker Backs Unionization Effort For Security Guards For Newark, Around N.J.,, December 2012
Senate Democrats Want Boeing to Negotiate With Union in SC, Seattle Times, August 2018
The Case for a Federal Jobs Guarantee, New York Times, April 2018
Democratic Senators Propose Bill Giving Overtime Pay To Farmworkers, The Hill, June 2018
AFL-CIO’s Sen. Cory Booker report, AFL-CIO website, last updated 2019