Sen. Cory BookerCory BookerDemocrats calls on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Bass raises nearly million since launching LA mayor campaign CNN legal analyst knocks GOP senator over remark on Biden nominee 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.
Sens. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyOvernight Health Care — White House boosts mask availability Senate Democrats call for investigation into reported price gouging for COVID-19 tests Biden's FDA nominee advances through key Senate committee MORE (D-Mass.) and Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillBiden, lawmakers mourn Harry Reid Harry Reid, political pugilist and longtime Senate majority leader, dies On The Trail: Trump-inspired challengers target GOP governors 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.