Markey, McCaskill join Booker's municipal Internet bill

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDemocrats eye additional relief checks for coronavirus Lawmakers, labor leaders ramp up calls to use Defense Production Act Democratic senators call on FDA to drop restrictions on blood donations from men who have sex with men MORE's (D-N.J.) bill meant to push back on state laws that restrict cities from building their own public Internet networks gained two Democratic co-sponsors.

Booker on Thursday formally introduced the Community Broadband Act, which forbids states or local governments from creating a "statute, regulation, or other legal requirement" the bars communities from creating their own municipal broadband network. 

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Sens. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOvernight Energy: Critics blast EPA move as 'license to pollute' during pandemic | Trump expected to roll back Obama mileage standards| Group plans to sue over rollback of water law Hillicon Valley: Twitter says Chinese official's virus disinformation doesn't violate rules | Hackers target WHO | Senators urge agencies to stop coronavirus robocalls Senators urge FCC, DOJ to combat coronavirus robocalls MORE (D-Mass.) and Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillGOP lukewarm on talk of airline bailout Claire McCaskill: Ron Johnson is an 'embarrassing tool' To winnow primary field, Obama and other Democrats must speak out  MORE (D-Mo.) signed onto the bill meant to encourage cities to expand high-speed Internet access around the country. 

"I thank Senator Booker for his leadership introducing the Community Broadband Act, which will support more options in the broadband market and greater local choice," Markey said in a statement. 

“Large Internet providers too often aren’t willing to offer service in rural America, so this bill ensures local communities can come together to provide their residents with access to the opportunities high-speed broadband offers," McCaskill said. 

At least 19 states around the country have laws on the books setting limits on the creation or expansion of municipal broadband networks. The senators framed his bill as way to create competition against large Internet service providers, like Comcast and Verizon. 

President Obama announced his own push to expand municipal broadband around the country, using the executive branch as well as a series of grants and loans. The administration has called on the Federal Communications Commission to use its authority to override those state laws. 

Critics have said municipal broadband is only appropriate in rare cases. When municipal broadband projects fail, critics say, they leave taxpayers on the hook. 

Booker's legislation contains a provision that would prevent the federal government from coming to the aid of municipal networks that go bankrupt, except in cases of natural disaster.