|United States Senator
January 3, 2007
Serving with Patrick Leahy
|Preceded by||Jim Jeffords|
|Chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs|
January 3, 2013
|Preceded by||Patty Murray|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Vermont's At-large district
January 3, 1991 – January 3, 2007
|Preceded by||Peter P. Smith|
|Succeeded by||Peter Welch|
|Mayor of Burlington|
|Preceded by||Gordon Paquette|
|Succeeded by||Peter Clavelle|
September 8, 1941
New York City, New York
|Liberty Union Party
Vermont Progressive Party
|Spouse(s)||Jane O'Meara Driscoll (4 children)|
|Alma mater||University of Chicago (B.A.)|
writer, and researcher
|Part of a series on|
the United States
|Parties and organizations|
Bernard "Bernie" Sanders (born September 8, 1941) is an American politician and the junior United States Senator from Vermont. Before serving in the Senate, he represented Vermont's at-large district in the United States House of Representatives and served as Mayor of Burlington, the largest city in Vermont. Sanders is a self-described democratic socialist, and has praised European social democracy; he is the first person elected to Congress to identify as a socialist in six decades.
Sanders caucuses with the Democratic Party and is counted as a Democrat for the purposes of committee assignments, but because he does not belong to a formal political party, he appears as an independent on the ballot. He was also the only independent member of the House during most of his service and is the longest-serving independent in U.S. Congressional history.
Early life and education 
Sanders was born on September 8, 1941 in Brooklyn, New York, the son of Polish Jewish immigrants, Dorothy (Glassburg) and Eli Sanders. He graduated from James Madison High School in Brooklyn, and later attended the University of Chicago, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in political science in 1964. After graduating Sanders spent time on an Israeli kibbutz, an experience that shaped his political views. In 1964, Sanders moved to Vermont, where he worked as a carpenter, filmmaker, writer, and researcher, among other jobs.
Early political career 
Liberty Union 
Sanders's political career began in 1971 when he joined the anti-Vietnam War Liberty Union Party (LU) in Vermont. Thereafter he ran in and lost several elections, including for the US Senate in 1972 and 1974, and for governor of Vermont in 1972 and 1976. In 1979, Sanders resigned from the LU and worked as a writer and the director of the nonprofit American People's Historical Society.
Mayor of Burlington 
In 1981, at the suggestion of his friend Richard Sugarman, a professor of religion at the University of Vermont, Sanders ran for Mayor of Burlington and defeated six-term Democratic incumbent Gordon Paquette by 10 votes in a four-way contest. Sanders won three more terms, defeating both Democratic and Republican candidates. In his final run for Mayor in 1987, Sanders defeated a candidate endorsed by both major parties.
During Sanders's first term his supporters, including the first Citizens Party City Councilor Terry Bouricius, formed the Progressive Coalition, the forerunner of the Vermont Progressive Party. The Progressives never held more than six seats on the 13-member city council but held enough votes to keep the council from overriding Sanders's vetoes. Under Sanders, Burlington became the first city in the country to fund community-trust housing. His administration also sued the local cable television provider and won considerably reduced rates and a substantial cash settlement.
After serving four terms, Sanders chose to not seek reelection in 1989, and went on to briefly teach political science at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government in 1989 and Hamilton College in 1991.
U.S. House of Representatives 
In 1988, incumbent Republican Congressman Jim Jeffords decided to run for the U.S. Senate, vacating Vermont's At-large congressional district. Republican Lieutenant Governor Peter Smith won the House election with a plurality of 41%. Sanders, who ran as an independent, won 38%, while Democratic nominee Paul N. Poirier, a State Representative, won 19% in third place. In 1990, Sanders ran for the seat again and defeated Smith in a rematch, winning 56%-40%. Smith's defeat is often attributed to his support for gun control and Sanders's support for gun rights. Sanders became the first independent elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 40 years, since Frazier Reams of Ohio, and the first Congressman to describe himself as a socialist in 60 years, the earlier being Victor L. Berger from Wisconsin. Thereafter Sanders continually won reelection with high margins, with his closest bid in 1994 during the Republican Revolution, when he won just 50% of the vote.
In 1993 Sanders voted against the Brady Bill in favor of a National Rifle Association (NRA)-supported bill to restrict lawsuits against gun manufacturers. Sanders is a co-founder of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and chaired the grouping of mostly liberal Democrats for its first eight years.
Sanders voted against the resolutions authorizing the use of force against Iraq in 1991 and 2002, and opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq; he later joined his colleagues in voting for a non-binding resolution expressing support for troops at the outset of the invasion, but gave a floor speech criticizing the partisan nature of the resolution, and the George W. Bush administration's actions in the run-up to the war. On April 7, 2006, in regard to the investigation of the leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity, Sanders said, "The revelation that the President authorized the release of classified information in order to discredit an Iraq war critic should tell every member of Congress that the time is now for a serious investigation of how we got into the war in Iraq and why Congress can no longer act as a rubber stamp for the President."
In June 2005, Sanders proposed an amendment to limit provisions that allow the government to obtain individuals' library and book-buying records. The amendment passed the House by a bipartisan majority but was removed on November 4 that year in House-Senate negotiations and never became law. Sanders followed this vote on November 5, 2005, by voting against the Online Freedom of Speech Act, which would have exempted the Internet from the restrictions of the McCain-Feingold Bill.
In March 2006, after a series of resolutions calling for him to bring articles of impeachment against the President passed in various towns in Vermont, Sanders stated it would be impractical to impeach George W. Bush, given the "reality that the Republicans control the House and the Senate". Still, Sanders made no secret of his opposition to the Bush Administration, which he regularly attacked for cuts to social programs he supports.
Sanders is a critic of Alan Greenspan; in June 2003, during a question-and-answer discussion with the then-Federal Reserve Chairman, Sanders told Greenspan that he was concerned that Greenspan was "way out of touch" and "that you see your major function in your position as the need to represent the wealthy and large corporations". Sanders said in 1998 that investment banks and commercial banks should remain as separate entities.
Republicans have attacked Sanders as "an ineffective extremist" for successfully sponsoring only one law and 15 amendments in his eight terms in the House. Sanders responded by saying that he had passed "the most floor amendments of any member of the House since 1996."
U.S. Senate 
Sanders had mentioned on several occasions that he would run for the Senate if Jeffords were to retire, and after Jeffords's announcement that he would not seek a fourth term, Sanders entered the race on April 21, 2005. New York Senator Chuck Schumer, the Chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, endorsed Sanders which was critical, as it meant that any Democrat running against Sanders could not expect to receive any financial help from the party. Sanders was also endorsed by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, and Democratic National Committee Chairman and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean. Dean said in May 2005 that he considered Sanders an ally who "votes with the Democrats 98% of the time". Then-Senator Barack Obama also campaigned for Sanders in Vermont. Sanders entered into an agreement with the Democratic Party, much as he had as a congressman, to be listed in their primary but to decline the nomination should he win, which he did.
In the most expensive political campaign in Vermont's history, Sanders defeated businessman Rich Tarrant by an approximately 2-to-1 margin. Many national media outlets projected Sanders the winner before any returns came in.
Sanders was reelected in 2012 with 71% of the vote.
Polling conducted in August 2011 by Public Policy Polling found that Sanders' approval rating was 67% and his disapproval rating 28%, making him then the third most popular Senator in the country.
Sanders and Senator Barbara Boxer introduced the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act of 2007 on January 15, 2007. The measure would have provided funding for research and development on geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide, set emissions standards for new vehicles and a renewable fuels requirement for gasoline beginning in 2016, established energy efficiency and renewable portfolio standards beginning in 2008 and low-carbon electric generation standards beginning in 2016 for electric utilities and would have required periodic evaluations by the National Academy of Sciences to determine whether emissions targets are adequate.
Sanders is a vocal advocate about the ramifications of global warming. In a speech on the Senate floor on July 26, 2012, Sanders addressed claims made by fellow Senator Jim Inhofe; "The bottom line is when Senator Inhofe says global warming is a hoax, he is just dead wrong, according to the vast majority of climate scientists".
Following the 2011 Japanese nuclear accidents, Sanders called for a moratorium on the licensing of new nuclear plants and re-licensing of existing ones, in an effort to slow down what's been touted as a nuclear renaissance in the United States. Sanders wrote to President Barack Obama asking for him to appoint a special commission to review the safety of U.S. nuclear plants. Sanders also wants to repeal a federal law that he says leaves the taxpayers to pick up most of the costs of a major nuclear accident. He says, "in a free-enterprise system, the nuclear industry should be required to insure itself against accidents."
Public honesty 
Sanders supports the DISCLOSE Act, which would make campaign finances more transparent and ban U.S. corporations controlled by foreign interests to make political contributions.
Sanders has been a leader in calling for media reform and opposes increased concentration of ownership of media outlets. He appeared in Orwell Rolls in His Grave and Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism, two documentaries on the subject.
Sanders is a staunch supporter of a universal health care system, and has said "[I]f you are serious about real healthcare reform, the only way to go is single-payer". Sanders is a social liberal, supporting LGBT rights, same-sex marriage, and pro-choice legislation. In the House he voted against the Defense of Marriage Act.
On September 24, 2008, Senator Sanders posted on his website a letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, against the initial bailout proposal, drawing more than 8,000 citizen cosigners in the first 24 hours. On January 26, 2009, Sanders and Democrats Robert Byrd, Russ Feingold and Tom Harkin were the sole majority members to vote against confirmation of Timothy Geithner to be United States Secretary of the Treasury.
On December 10, 2010, Sanders delivered an 8½-hour speech against the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010, the proposed extension of the Bush-era tax rates that eventually became law, saying "Enough is enough! [...] How many homes can you own?" A long speech such as this is traditionally a filibuster, but because it didn't block action, it isn't technically a filibuster under Senate rules.
National acclaim 
On January 19, 2011, Sanders announced that the speech would be published in February 2011 by Nation Books as The Speech: A Historic Filibuster on Corporate Greed and the Decline of Our Middle Class, with authorial proceeds going to Vermont nonprofit charitable organizations.
In response to his "filibuster", "activists across the country started talking up the notion of a 'Sanders for President' run in 2012, either as a dissident Democrat in the primaries or as a left-leaning Independent." Hundreds of people signed online petitions urging Sanders to run, and pollsters began measuring his support in key primary states. Progressive activists such as Rabbi Michael Lerner and economist David Korten publicly voiced their support for a prospective Sanders run against President Barack Obama. Sanders has disavowed any interest in a presidential run, saying he was "very proud to be Vermont's Senator," and maintained that "I am very content to be where I am, but I am flattered by that kind of response."
Committee assignments 
- Committee on the Budget
- Committee on Veterans' Affairs (Chairman)
- Committee on Environment and Public Works
- Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
- Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Personal life 
Sanders is married to Jane O'Meara Driscoll, a former president of Burlington College; he has one child and three stepchildren. His brother, Larry Sanders, is a Green Party County Councillor representing the East Oxford division on Oxfordshire County Council, in England.
Sanders is one of two sitting U.S. Senators who went to James Madison High School in Brooklyn, the other being Chuck Schumer. Before Sanders became a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, his roommate was Richard I. Sugarman, a professor at the University of Vermont. Coincidentally, Senator Joseph Lieberman, for much of the time the only other Independent serving in the Senate, shared a suite with Sugarman when the two attended Yale University in the 1960s.
Electoral history 
Further reading 
- Steven Rosenfeld, Making History in Vermont: The Election of a Socialist to Congress. Wakefield, NH: Hollowbrook Publishing, 1992. ISBN 978-0893416997
- Steven Soifer, The Socialist Mayor: Bernard Sanders in Burlington, Vermont. Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey, 1991. ISBN 978-0897892193
- "Faith on the Hill: The Religious Composition of the 113th Congress". Pew Forum. November 2012. Retrieved November 17, 2012.
- "Congress Gets 1st Socialist in 60 Years". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. November 7, 1990.
- Julian Borger (November 8, 2006). "Democrats pile pressure on Bush as glitches hit US poll". Guardian. Retrieved November 8, 2006.
- Christopher Greaff (September 8, 1991). "Socialist in Congress Goes Where Democrats, Republicans Fear to Tread". The Los Angeles Times. Associated Press. Retrieved September 2, 2010.
- Mark Leibovich (January 21, 2007). "The Socialist Senator". The New York Times Magazine (The New York Times). Retrieved July 18, 2007.
- Jack Jodell (July 3-4, 2011). "Great Progressive Voices (Part VII)". RoundTree7. Retrieved January 18, 2013.
- "Re-election easy for Socialist mayor". Spokane Chronicle. March 4, 1987. p. 46.
- "WSJ Sanders Profile". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 18, 2013.
- "VT At-Large Race - Nov 08, 1988". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2013-02-17.
- Adam Pertman (November 11, 1990). "'The Times Caught Up' To Vermont Socialist". The Boston Globe.
- "Final Vote Results for Roll Call 534". Office of the clerk, US House of Representatives. Retrieved July 18, 2007.
- Yost, Pete (April 7, 2006). "Libby: Bush, Cheney OK’d leak campaign". Associated Press. Retrieved July 18, 2007.
- "Message". Lists.wisc.edu. Retrieved 2011-08-01.
- [Previous Page]. "Bernie :: Release :: Sanders Blasts Bush’S Housing Secretary On Housing Cuts In Vermont". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on September 26, 2006. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
- By Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). "Have They No Shame? | TPMCafe". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on November 14, 2007. Retrieved August 29, 2010. Text " bio " ignored (help)
- "Bernie :: Multimedia :: Video". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on September 26, 2006. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
- [Previous Page]. "bernie :: statement :: Congressman Sanders' Questioning of Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on September 26, 2006. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
- "News Sept 24 – Newsroom: U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (Vermont)". Sanders.senate.gov. September 24, 2008. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
- "National Republican Senatorial Committee". Web.archive.org. November 13, 2007. Retrieved 2011-08-01.
- episode49, LLC and The Bivings Group. "National Republican Senatorial Committee". Web.archive.org. Archived from the original on October 3, 2006. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
- "» Bernie on GOP Hit List". Web.archive.org. 2007-11-14. Archived from the original on 2007-11-14. Retrieved 2011-08-01.
- "Transcript for May 22 – Meet the Press, online at MSNBC". MSNBC. 2005-05-22. Retrieved 2011-08-01.
- "U.S. Senate: Tarrant-Sanders duel set". Burlington Free Press. September 12, 2006. Retrieved November 8, 2006.[dead link]
- Ring, Wilson (November 7, 2006). "Sanders, Welch are winners in Vermont". Boston Globe. Associated Press. Retrieved January 25, 2007.
- "Vermont Election Results". Decision 2012. NBC News. Retrieved 21 April 2013.
- Americans Love Socialism: Bernie Sanders Is The 3rd Most Popular US Senator Politics USA 2 August 2011. Retrieved 28 March 2012.'
- Climate Change Bills of the 110th Congress Environmental Defense, May 29, 2007.
- Totten, Shay (January 15, 2007). "Sanders to push global warming legislation in Senate". Vermont Guardian. Retrieved August 4, 2009. "Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, said Monday he was making good on at least one of a handful of campaign promises — introducing a bill designed to cut U.S. contributions to global greenhouse gas emissions in the next decade. ... Sanders added that construction of new power plants is “extraordinarily expensive” and he would prefer to see federal funding support used to expand the development of sustainable energy, as well as biofuels."
- Gerken, James (July 31, 2012). "Senator Bernie Sanders: Climate Change Is Real, Senator Inhofe Is 'Dead Wrong'". The Huffington Post. Retrieved August 1, 2012.
- "US Sen. Sanders: Slow down on nuclear relicensing". BusinessWeek. March 21, 2011.
- "Legislation - Campaign Finance: Bernie Sanders - U.S. Senator for Vermont". Sanders.senate.gov. Retrieved 2013-02-17.
- Nichols, John; McEhsney, Robert W. (July 3, 2003). "The Battle Over Media Ownership is Far From Over". Common Dreams NewsCenter. Retrieved August 4, 2009. "Members of Congress are finding they cannot avoid talking about media issues because people really are upset with what the FCC did and with the broader issue of who controls the media," says U.S. Rep. Bernie Sander, I-Vermont, a leading critic of the FCC rule changes [removing limits on the ability of individual companies to dominate more than 35 percent of television communications and to prevent "cross-ownership" schemes that allow corporations to buy up primary newspapers, radio and television stations and cable and Internet services in a city.] and a champion of media reform in the public interest."
- "Vt. congressman interviewed for film". USA Today. July 26, 2004. Retrieved August 4, 2009. "Rep. Bernie Sanders has a burgeoning second job: movie star. Vermont's lone congressman is one of many legislators, journalists and media watchdogs interviewed for "Orwell Rolls in His Grave," by director Robert Pappas, and Robert Greenwald's latest film, "Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism.""
- Jaffe, Sarah (July 14, 2009). "Sanders Schools McCain on Public Healthcare". The Nation. Retrieved August 4, 2009. "Senator Bernie Sanders is one of the Senate's fiercest advocates for real healthcare reform that puts Americans, not private insurance companies, first. Recently, Sanders told The Nation's Katrina vanden Heuvel, '[I]f you are serious about real healthcare reform, the only way to go is single-payer.'"
- "Final Vote Resulte for Roll Call 316". Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved May 1, 2011.
- "Newsroom – Video/Audio: U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (Vermont)". Sanders.senate.gov. September 24, 2008. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
- "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Votes > Roll Call Vote". Senate.gov. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
- "Memoli, Michael "Sen. Bernie Sanders ends filibuster"". Los Angeles Times. 2010-12-10. Retrieved 2011-08-01.
- Sen. Bernie Sanders' 8 1/2-hour Speech to be Sold in Book Form Burlington Free Press January 20, 2011. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
- Nichols, John (December 29, 2010) That 'Sanders for President' Talk is Real Enough, But Bernie's Not Going There, The Nation
- "About Bernie: Bernie Sanders - U.S. Senator for Vermont". Sanders.senate.gov. Retrieved 2013-02-17.
- "Project Vote Smart – Senator Bernard 'Bernie' Sanders – Biography". Vote-smart.org. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
- "Councillor Larry Sanders". Retrieved August 15, 2012.
- Scott MacKay (August 6, 2006). "The fight of his life". The Providence Journal.
- "America's Number 1 Progressive Radio Show | Thom Hartmann - News & info from the #1 progressive radio show". Thom Hartmann. Retrieved 2011-08-01.
- United States Senator Bernie Sanders official U.S. Senate site
- Friends of Bernie Sanders official campaign site'
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Biography, voting record, and interest group ratings at Project Vote Smart
- Profile at Ballotpedia
- Congressional profile at GovTrack
- Congressional profile at OpenCongress
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Financial information (federal office) at OpenSecrets.org
- Staff salaries, trips and personal finance (federal office) at LegiStorm.com
- Issue positions and quotes at On the Issues
- Voting record at The Washington Post
- Appearances on C-SPAN programs
- Appearances at the Internet Movie Database
- Works by or about Bernie Sanders in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Collected news and commentary at The New York Times
- Collected news and commentary at The Washington Post
|Mayor of Burlington, Vermont
1981 – 1989
|United States House of Representatives|
Peter P. Smith
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Vermont's at-large congressional district
January 3, 1991 – January 3, 2007
|United States Senate|
|United States Senator (Class 1) from Vermont
January 4, 2007 – present
Served alongside: Patrick Leahy
|Chairman of the Senate Veteran's Affairs Committee
2013 – present
|United States order of precedence|
|United States Senators by seniority