Booker Critiques Biden's New Criminal Justice Plan

'You created this system' Booker tweeted Tuesday morning

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
July 23, 2019

Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) offered a not so subtle dig at leading presidential candidate Joe Biden's newly released criminal justice reform plan Tuesday morning, suggesting Biden's four-decade career in the Senate does not match the candidate's progressive policy proposal. 

"It's not enough to tell us what you're going to do for our communities, show us what you've done for the last 40 years," Booker tweeted on Tuesday. "You created this system. We'll dismantle it."

While Booker's tweet did not explicitly mention the former vice president by name, the tweet came as Biden’s campaign previewed their criminal justice plan to the New York Times Tuesday morning.

Biden has come under fire from some of his Democratic presidential opponents over his decades-long career in the Senate as a law-and-order Democrat and his support of the 1994 crime bill, which many criminal justice reform advocates say increased incarceration rates and sentencing disparities.

Analysis from the New York Times in late June profiled how Biden worked closely with Southern segregationist senators to toughen sentencing laws, institute mandatory minimum sentences for certain crimes, and established sentencing disparities for possession of crack versus powder cocaine. 

Biden's new plan "would aim to reverse the legacies of the 1994 crime bill," according to the Times, including addressing the sentencing issues the bill enshrined into law. The proposal also calls for the end of mandatory minimum sentencing as well as the abolition of the death penalty.

The latter proposal runs directly contrary positions Biden used to hold during his nearly forty-year career representing Delaware in the U.S. Senate. 

The Booker campaign confirmed to the Hill that the tweet was meant as a direct response to the release of Biden's criminal justice proposal and echoes previous criticisms from Booker about the 1994 crime bill. The senator's campaign later on Tuesday released a statement expanding on Booker's tweet. 

"While it’s encouraging to see Vice President Biden finally come around to supporting many of the ideas I and others have proposed, his plan falls short of the transformative change our broken criminal justice system needs," Booker said. "Joe Biden had more than 40 years to get this right. The proud architect of a failed system is not the right person to fix it."

This is not the first time Booker has criticized Biden over his legislative track record in the Senate. In June, Booker said Biden needed to apologize for his work alongside southern segregationist senators.

Biden and Booker are slated to appear together in the next set of Democratic presidential debates, to be held later this month. The two candidates were not on the same stage during the first set of debates but will both be participating in the July 31 debate, where Biden will be placed between Booker and another emerging critic of his, Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.).