When Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) announced his resignation in December amid allegations of groping women, his exit didn’t just vacate a Senate seat; it opened up a spot on the high-profile Senate Judiciary Committee.
The Congressional Black Caucus jumped on the opportunity, urging Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the minority leader, to fill the spot with either Cory Booker (D-N.J.) or Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). On Tuesday, Democrats met the CBC’s demand and then some, naming—in a somewhat surprising move—both lawmakers to the committee.
(The second appointment was made possible by the election of Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) in December, which narrowed the Republican advantage on the Judicial and Finance Committees.)
“Thrilled to share that I’ve been appointed to the Senate Judiciary Committee,” Harris, a first-term senator elected in 2016, tweeted Tuesday. “You have my commitment that I will fight for justice on behalf of Californians and all Americans.”
In tweeting his appointment, Booker vowed to stand up to the Trump administration.
In a letter to Schumer in December urging the appointment of Harris or Booker—both of whom are attorneys—CBC chair Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.) said that black America is currently facing “the greatest threats to its rights and safety since the post-Reconstruction era.”
“Given this pivotal moment in American history, the CBC urges you and the Senate Democratic Caucus to appoint a CBC Member to join Ranking Member [Diane] Feinstein and others in defense of our democracy, our values and our constitutional rights.”
Civil rights groups had also called for the appointment of an African American senator, pointing out that only one black lawmaker had served on the committee over the course of its 201-year history. Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun (D-Ill.) served one term in the 1990s.
“We are indeed at an unprecedented moment in history where a record number of African American Senators serve in Congress,” said the letter signed by leaders of the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the NAACP, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the National Action Network, the National Urban League, and the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. “This vacancy creates the opportunity to further diversity the perspectives and voices overseeing issues that impact the most vulnerable communities in our country. We urge Senate Leadership to ensure that the voice of the African American community is reflected, not only in its mission, but in its makeup.
Others latched onto the idea of a Harris appointment as black women emerged as a dependable voter base for Democrats in two of the most recent high-profile elections: the special Senate race in Alabama and the Virginia gubernatorial race that saw Jones and Democrat Ralph Northam elected to office.
“It’s time for another strong African American voice to be heard on the Judiciary Committee. Given the results of Virginia and Alabama, that voice should be a black woman’s. It should be Harris’s,” wrote Washington Post opinion writer Jonathan Capehart in December.
On Tuesday, Kristen Clarke, president and executive of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told Fortune that the appointments were “truly remarkable.”
“The Senate Judiciary is arguably one of the most important committees,” she said, pointing to its handling of judicial nominations and matters like criminal justice reform and its role as a check on the power of the executive branch.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is—notably—one of several congressional committees undertaking an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“It’s important that this committee reflects the diversity of our country; that different perspectives are brought to bear,” Clarke said.
In addition to satisfying the CBC and civil rights groups, the two appointments will no doubt fuel speculation about Harris’s and Booker’s political futures. Even before they were named to one of the most prominent subcommittees in Congress, the two were considered 2020 Democratic presidential contenders.
Read our 2017 Report Card for Booker.
Booker is shown as a purple triangle ▲ in our ideology-leadership chart below. Each dot is a member of the Senate positioned according to our liberal–conservative ideology score (left to right) and our leadership score (leaders are toward the top).
The chart is based on the bills Booker has sponsored and cosponsored. See full analysis methodology.
Ratings from Advocacy Organizations
Cory Booker sits on the following committees:
- Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
- Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
- Senate Committee on the Judiciary
- Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Booker was the primary sponsor of 4 bills that were enacted:
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We consider a bill enacted if one of the following is true: a) it is enacted itself, b) it has a companion bill in the other chamber (as identified by Congress) which was enacted, or c) if about one third or more of its provisions were incorporated into bills that were enacted (as determined by an automated text analysis, applicable beginning with bills in the 110th Congress).
Booker sponsors bills primarily in these issue areas:
Health (20%)Crime and Law Enforcement (17%)Government Operations and Politics (17%)Taxation (13%)Transportation and Public Works (10%)Education (7%)Science, Technology, Communications (7%)Civil Rights and Liberties, Minority Issues (7%)
Some of Booker’s most recently sponsored bills include...
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|Booker’s Vote||Vote Description|
|Nay||H.R. 1892: Further Extension of Continuing Appropriations Act, 2018; Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2018, the SUSTAIN Care Act of 2018; Family First Prevention Services Act.; Honoring Hometown ...|
Feb 9, 2018. Motion Agreed to 71/28.
This bill became the vehicle for passage of funding for the federal government through March 23, 2018, to avert a government shutdown that would have occurred on February 9, 2018 had this bill not been enacted. The bill was introduced as the Honoring Hometown Heroes ...
|Nay||H.R. 5325: Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 2017|
Sep 28, 2016. Bill Passed 72/26.
|Yea||H.R. 22: Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act|
Dec 3, 2015. Conference Report Agreed to 83/16.
H.R 22, formerly the Hire More Heroes Act, has become the Senate’s vehicle for passage of the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act or DRIVE Act (S. 1647). The DRIVE Act is a major bipartisan transportation bill that would authorize funding ...
|Nay||H.R. 22: Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act|
Jul 30, 2015. Bill Passed 65/34.
This vote turned H.R 22, originally the Hire More Heroes Act, into the Senate’s vehicle for passage of the Developing a Reliable and Innovative Vision for the Economy Act or DRIVE Act (S. 1647), a major bipartisan transportation bill, and the Export-Import Bank Reform and ...
|Nay||S. 1177: Every Child Achieves Act of 2015|
Jul 16, 2015. Bill Passed 81/17.
The Every Child Achieves Act is a bipartisan educational policy reform bill that would expand state responsibility over schools, provide grants to charter schools, and reduce the federal test-based accountability system of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The bill was referred to the ...
|Yea||H.R. 5771 (113th): Tax Increase Prevention Act of 2014|
Dec 16, 2014. Bill Passed 76/16.
|Nay||On the Nomination PN1777: Joseph F. Leeson, Jr., of Pennsylvania, to be United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania|
Dec 4, 2014. Nomination Confirmed 76/16.
|Yea||H.J.Res. 124 (113th): Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2015|
Sep 18, 2014. Joint Resolution Passed 78/22.
|Nay||H.R. 2642 (113th): Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013|
Feb 4, 2014. Conference Report Agreed to 68/32.
From Oct 2013 to Mar 2018, Booker missed 39 of 1,309 roll call votes, which is 3.0%. This is worse than the median of 1.4% among the lifetime records of senators currently serving. The chart below reports missed votes over time.
Show the numbers...
|Time Period||Votes Eligible||Missed Votes||Percent||Percentile|
The information on this page is originally sourced from a variety of materials, including:
Cory Booker is pronounced:
KOR-ee // BUU-ker
The letters stand for sounds according to the following table:
|Letter||Sounds As In|
Capital letters indicate a stressed syllable.