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Markey, McCaskill join Booker's municipal Internet bill

Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerTim Scott to deliver GOP response to Biden's speech to Congress The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Chauvin conviction puts renewed focus on police reform New signs of progress emerge on police reform 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 MarkeyEd MarkeyHillicon Valley: Acting FTC chair blasts Supreme Court decision limiting agency consumer power | Police tech under scrutiny following Chicago shooting Every day should be Earth Day Senate Democrats ask regulator to look into driver-assist systems after deadly Tesla crash MORE (D-Mass.) and Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillDemings asked about Senate run after sparring with Jordan on police funding Republicans fret over divisive candidates Greitens Senate bid creates headache for GOP 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.