WASHINGTON - Sen. Cory A. Booker, widely seen as a rising Democratic star and potential future presidential candidate, will gain a foothold on the international stage in January when he joins the Foreign Relations Committee.
The New Jersey senator will take a seat on the panel when Congress reconvenes, his office said Thursday. The committee will oversee the American response to issues roiling the globe, from renewed Russian aggression to the Syrian civil war and the international nuclear deal with Iran. Booker will also have an early vote on President-elect Donald Trump's pick for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson.
Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, has become one of Trump's most controversial selections, given his ties to Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin.
For Booker, a former Newark mayor who has focused for most of his political career on domestic issues, the seat may help him round out his profile. It's the committee that Vice President Biden once chaired during his long Senate career.
"At a time of global turmoil, when there are more refugees than at any time since World War II, and when the incoming administration - including the nominee for secretary of state - has disconcertingly close ties with Russia despite their attempts to undermine our system of free elections, I look forward to being a voice for American diplomacy, compassion, and justice," Booker said in a statement.
Booker will be the third Democrat from the Philadelphia region on the panel, joining fellow New Jerseyan Bob Menendez, who formerly chaired the committee, and Delaware's Chris Coons. Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey is a former member.
"The Senate Foreign Relations Committee plays a decisive role in projecting American values across the world and shaping our nation's foreign policy in war and peace," Menendez said in a statement. "At a time of great need and ever-changing geopolitical dynamics, I look forward to having Sen. Booker join us in this important job."
Booker will leave the Senate's Security Committee. He will continue to sit on panels overseeing transportation, the environment and public works, and small business.