The two are the second and third African Americans ever to serve on the committee in its 200-year history. And, as that statistic would suggest, they will be the first African American duo to serve at the same time.
“I look forward to the chance to continue to provide a voice for our most vulnerable communities, work on issues I’ve handled since my earliest days in the Alameda County District Attorney’s office, and defend California in the face of this Administration’s repeated attacks on our values," Harris told Blavity in a statement. "While I will no longer serve on the Environment and Public Works Committee, I will continue to be a champion for California, which has an outsized stake in all issues relating to the protection of our environment. My commitment to fight for everyone’s right to drink clean water and breathe clean air is unwavering.”
Booker also released his own statement, telling Blavity: “Fixing America's broken criminal justice system has been a decades-long passion of mine, and the urgency with which we must act has grown with the extraordinarily dangerous, backwards policies being advanced by Attorney General Sessions and President Trump."
Booker has shown an interest in the criminal justice system since his days as the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, and Harris (who was once an attorney general herself) jumped in the spotlight when she played hardball with current U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions during the Senate Intelligence Committee hearings.
"At a time when civil rights are increasingly under assault by the Executive Branch, and when ideological extremism and abuse of the judicial confirmation process are undermining our democratic institutions, I will bring every ounce of energy I have to this position, responsible for direct oversight of the nation's Attorney General, our system of justice, and the judiciary."
Booker has been a very outspoken critic of Attorney General Sessions. He broke with Senate tradition during then-Senator Session's confirmation process, becoming the first sitting Senator to testify against a fellow Senator nominated for a cabinet post. In his new position, he vows to continue his fight towards reforming the criminal justice system.
"Make no mistake about it — our country is at a decisive turning point. The Trump administration has repeatedly demonstrated its hostility to the ideals of civil rights and equal justice for all. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I will make it my mission to check and balance President Trump and Attorney General Sessions," Booker said. "At every turn I will strive to advance the cause of reforming a broken justice system stacked against the poor and people of color, and to bend the arc of our nation's history further towards equal justice for all.
Booker said that he's also very excited to be working with Senator Harris. “I couldn’t be more excited that my dear friend Senator Harris will also be joining the committee," he said. "She is an immensely talented person who brings a wealth of skills and experience to the table. I can’t wait to work alongside her.”
Congrats to Senator Booker and Senator Harris!