Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders

Infobox Senator | name=Bernie Sanders

jr/sr=Junior Senator
Caucused with Democrats in Senate
term_start=January 3, 2007
alongside=Patrick Leahy
preceded=Jim Jeffords
date of birth=birth date and age|1941|09|8
place of birth=New York City, New York
occupation= journalist
residence= Burlington, Vermont
spouse=Jane O'Meara
children=Levi Sanders
alma_mater=University of Chicago
term_start2=January 3, 1991
term_end2=January 3, 2007
preceded2=Peter P. Smith
succeeded2=Peter Welch

Bernard "Bernie" Sanders (born September 8, 1941) is the junior United States Senator from Vermont, elected on November 7, 2006. Before becoming Senator, Sanders represented Vermont's at-large district in the United States House of Representatives for 16 years.

Sanders is a self-described democratic socialist, but because he does not belong to a formal political party he appears as an independent on the ballot. Sanders caucuses with the Democratic Party and is counted as a Democrat for the purposes of committee assignments. He was the only independent member of the House during much of his service there and is one of two independent Senators in the 110th Congress, along with Joe Lieberman. Sanders is the first self-described socialist to be elected to the U.S. Senate.cite news| url=,,1942041,00.html |title=Democrats pile pressure on Bush as glitches hit US poll |work=Guardian |date=2006-11-08 |last=Borger |first=Julian |accessdate=2006-11-08] Sanders left the House in order to run in the 2006 election for the Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Jim Jeffords and won the election with 65% of the vote.cite web|url= |title=U.S. Senate / Vermont |work=America Votes 2006 |publisher=CNN |accessdate=2006-11-09]

Early life

Sanders, the son of Jewish-Polish immigrants to the United States was born in Brooklyn. He graduated from James Madison High School in Brooklyn and later attended the University of Chicago, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1964.cite web
last = Leibovich
first = Mark
work = The New York Times Magazine
title = The Socialist Senator
publisher = The New York Times
date = 2007-01-21
url =
accessdate = 2007-07-18
] Sanders moved to Vermont in 1964. He worked as a carpenter and journalist.

Early political career

Sanders' political career began in 1971, when he joined the anti-Vietnam War Liberty Union Party in Vermont. Sanders was an unsuccessful Liberty Union candidate for election to the Senate in 1972 and 1974, as well as for governor of Vermont in 1972, 1976 and 1986. In his initial campaign Sanders received only two percent of the vote, but in subsequent races for Senate and Governor were slightly more successful, with Sanders' highest vote tally being six percent.

In 1977, Sanders resigned from the Liberty Union party and worked as a writer and the director of the non-profit American People's Historical Society. In 1981, at the suggestion of his friend Richard Sugarman, a religion professor at the University of Vermont, Sanders ran for mayor of Burlington and defeated six-term Democratic incumbent Gordon Paquette by 12 votes, in a four-way contest. (An independent candidate, Richard Bove, split the Democratic vote after losing the primary to Paquette).

Increasingly popular because of his successful revitalization of Burlington's downtown area, Sanders won three more terms, defeating both Democratic and Republican candidates. In his last run for mayor, in 1987, he defeated a candidate endorsed by both major parties.

During his first term, supporters of Sanders formed the Progressive Coalition, 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' 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.

Sanders ran for governor for the third time in 1986. He finished third with 14.5 percent of the vote, which was enough to deny incumbent Democrat Madeleine Kunin a majority; she was then elected by the state legislature pursuant to Vermont law. In 1988, when six-term incumbent Representative Jim Jeffords made a successful run for the Senate, Sanders ran for Jeffords' vacated seat in the House. Sanders narrowly lost to Peter P. Smith, the former lieutenant governor and the 1986 Republican candidate for governor. Sanders again ran against Smith in 1990. In one of the biggest upsets in recent political history, he took 56 percent of the vote and defeated Smith by 16 points, becoming the first independent member of the House since 1950.

Sanders taught at Harvard University in 1989 and Hamilton College in 1991.

In the House of Representatives

Although relations between Sanders and House Democratic leadership were not always smooth, the Democrats have not actively campaigned against Sanders since his first run for Congress as an independent. While Democratic candidates ran against him in every election except 1994 (when Sanders managed to win the Democrats' endorsement), they received little financial support.

Sanders was reelected six times and was the longest-serving independent member of the House. Despite his independent status, he only faced one difficult contest. That came in 1994, in the midst of the Republican Revolution that swept Republicans into control of the Congress. In a year when many marginal seats fell to Republicans, Sanders managed a narrow three-point victory. In every other election, he has won at least 55 percent of the vote. In his last House campaign in 2004, Sanders took 69 percent to Republican Greg Parke's 24 percent and Democrat Larry Drown's 7 percent.

Sanders' lifetime legislative score from the AFL-CIO is 100 percent. As of 2006, he has a grade of "C-" from the National Rifle Association (NRA). Sanders voted against the Brady Bill and in favor of an NRA-supported bill to restrict lawsuits against gun manufacturers in 2005. [cite web
title =Final Vote Results for Roll Call 534
publisher = Office of the clerk, US House of Representatives
url =
accessdate = 2007-07-18
] Sanders voted to abolish the so-called "marriage penalty" and also for a bill that sought to ban human cloning. Sanders has endorsed every Democratic nominee for president of the United States since 1992. Sanders is a co-founder of the House Progressive Caucus and chaired the grouping of mostly left-wing Democrats for its first eight years.

Sanders voted against both resolutions authorizing the use of force against Iraq in 1991 and 2002, and opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He later joined almost all of his colleagues in voting for a non-binding resolution expressing support for U.S. troops at the outset of the invasion, although he gave a floor speech criticizing the partisan nature of the resolution and the Bush administration's actions in the run-up to the war. In relation to the leak investigation involving Valerie Plame, on April 7, 2006, 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." [cite web
last = Yost
first = Pete
title =Libby: Bush, Cheney OK’d leak campaign
publisher = The Associated Press
date = 2006-04-07
url =
accessdate = 2007-07-18
] Sanders supports universal health care and opposes what he terms "unfettered" free trade [] , which he argues deprives American workers of their jobs while exploiting foreign workers in sweatshop factories.

An amendment Sanders offered in June 2005 to limit provisions giving the government power to obtain individuals' library and book-buying records passed the House by a bipartisan majority, but was removed on November 4 of that year by House-Senate negotiators, and never became law. [ [ Message ] ] 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, Sanders stated it would be impractical, given the "reality that the Republicans control the House and the Senate," to impeach George W. Bush after a series of resolutions calling for him to bring articles of impeachment against the president passed in various towns in Vermont. Still, Sanders makes no secret of his opposition to the Bush Administration, which he has regularly attacked for cuts in social programs he supports. [] ] [] ['4791']

Sanders has also criticized Alan Greenspan. In June 2003, during a question-and-answer discussion with 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." []

Republicans have attacked Sanders as "an ineffective extremist" for passing only one law and fifteen amendments in his eight terms in the House. [ [ National Republican Senatorial Committee ] ] [] Sanders responded by saying that he had passed "the most floor amendments of any member of the House since 1996." [ [ » Bernie on GOP Hit List ] ] Democratic National Committee chair Howard Dean has stated that "Bernie Sanders votes with the Democrats 98 percent of the time." [ [ Transcript for May 22 - Meet the Press, online at MSNBC - ] ]

enate campaign

Sanders had mentioned on several occasions that he would run for the Senate if Jeffords (with whom he has a longstanding friendship) were ever to retire, and entered the race on April 21, 2005, following Jeffords's announcement that he would not seek a fourth term. New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, endorsed Sanders; Schumer's backing was critical, as it meant that any Democrat running against Sanders could not expect to receive any significant financial help on a national level.

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 voted with House Democrats. Sen. Barack Obama also campaigned for Sanders in Vermont. Sanders entered into an agreement with the Democratic Party to be listed in their primary but to decline the nomination should he win, which he did easily. [cite news| url= |title=U.S. Senate: Tarrant-Sanders duel set |work=Burlington Free Press |date=2006-09-12 |accessdate=2006-11-08]

Speculation abounded that the state's popular Republican governor, Jim Douglas, would enter the race as well. Many pundits believed Douglas was the only Republican who could possibly defeat Sanders. However, on April 30, Douglas announced he would seek a third term as governor. In the view of many pundits, this effectively handed the open seat to Sanders.

Sanders consistently led his Republican challenger, businessman Richard Tarrant, by wide margins in polling. In the most expensive political campaign in Vermont's history,cite news |url= |title=Sanders, Welch are winners in Vermont |last=Ring |first=Wilson |work=Boston Globe |publisher=Associated Press |date=2006-11-07 |accessdate=2007-01-25] Sanders defeated Tarrant by an approximately 2-to-1 margin in the 2006 midterm election. Many national media outlets (including CNN) projected Sanders the winner before any returns came in.

Sanders is only the third Senator from Vermont to caucus with the Democrats — following Jeffords and Patrick Leahy. Sanders made a deal with the Democratic leadership similar to the one Jeffords made after Jeffords became an independent. In exchange for receiving the committee seats that would be available to him as a Democrat, Sanders votes with the Democrats on all procedural matters unless he asks permission of Majority Whip Richard Durbin. However, such a request is almost never made and is almost never granted. He is free to vote as he pleases on policy matters, but almost always votes with the Democrats.

enate career

The Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act of 2007 was introduced by Senators Sanders and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) on January 15, 2007. The measure would provide funding for R&D on geologic sequestration of carbon dioxide, set emissions standards for new vehicles and a renewable fuels requirement for gasoline beginning in 2016, establish energy efficiency and renewable portfolio standards beginning in 2008 and low-carbon electric generation standards beginning in 2016 for electric utilities, and require periodic evaluations by the National Academy of Sciences to determine whether emissions targets are adequate. [ [ Climate Change Bills of the 110th Congress] "Environmental Defense", May 29, 2007.]

Committee assignments

*Committee on Environment and Public Works
**Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety
**Subcommittee on Private Sector and Consumer Solutions to Global Warming and Wildlife Protection
**Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure
*Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
**Subcommittee on Energy
**Subcommittee on National Parks
**Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests
*Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
**Subcommittee on Children and Families
**Subcommittee on Retirement and Aging
*Committee on Veterans' Affairs
*Committee on the Budget

Personal life and trivia

*Bernie's brother, Larry Sanders, is a Green Party politician in the county of Oxfordshire in England. His nephew, Jacob, is a former Oxford city councillor for the Greens.
*Bernie Sanders has regular guest appearances on the Thom Hartmann radio program for the Friday segment "Brunch with Bernie."
*He is married to Jane O'Meara, president of Burlington College, and has one son, Levi Sanders, from a previous marriage. []
*Bernie is one of three sitting US Senators who went to James Madison High School in Brooklyn.
*At one point before becoming a member of the US House of Representatives, Bernie's roommate was Richard I. Sugarman, a professor at the University of Vermont. Coincidentally, the only other Independent currently serving in the US Senate, Joe Lieberman (I-CT) shared a suite with Prof. Sugarman when the two attended Yale in the 1960s. [cite news| url=| publisher="The Providence Journal"| title=The fight of his life| date=2006-08-06| author=Scott MacKay]
*On April 21, 2008, Bernie appeared on "The Colbert Report" as the featured guest. He has also appeared on "Real Time with Bill Maher".

Electoral history

2006 Vermont United States Senatorial Election


External links

;Official sites
* [ United States Senator Bernie Sanders] , Senate site
* [ Bernie Sanders Election 2006] , Campaign site


* [ Interview with Independent Congressman Bernie Sanders]
* [ Bernie Sanders Interview with the Progressive Magazine]
* [ Interview with Democracy Now! a few days before 2006 midterm elections]
* [ A Socialist in the Millionaires' Club: An Interview with Bernie Sanders]

;Articles by Sanders
* [ Bailout Passes Senate; 9 Reasons That's Bad News for You] by Bernie Sanders
* [ How a Bad Bill Becomes Law] by Bernie Sanders
* [ The Collapse of the Middle Class] by Bernie Sanders
* [ Free Trade Means America’s Biggest Export is its Jobs] by Bernie Sanders
* [ Ground Control to Mr. Bush] by Bernie Sanders
* [ Falling Behind In Boom Times] by Bernie Sanders
* [ A Year of Contrasts: Courage, Sacrifice and...Corporate Greed] by Bernie Sanders
* [ The Export-Import Bank: Corporate Welfare At Its Worst] by Bernie Sanders
* [ U.S. Needs A Political Revolution] by Bernie Sanders
* [ Remote Control] by Bernie Sanders
* [ Censorship of the Media Creating Insidious Chill on Free Expression on our Airwaves] by Bernie Sanders
* [ The USA Patriot Act: What Are You Reading?] by Bernie Sanders
* [ Google Books Link to "Outsider In The House"] by Bernie Sanders

;Articles about Sanders
* [ Is Bernie the next Aiken?]
* [ The first socialist senator in US history is set to stir things up]
* [,,1937064,00.html Vermont poised to elect America's first socialist senator]
* [ Being Like Bernie] by John Nichols
*Geoffrey Norman, "National Review", "Get Ready for Senator Bernie" (10 April 2006)
* [ A Socialist in the Senate?] by Matthew Rothschild
* [ Rep. Bernie Sanders vs. Chairman Alan Greenspan]
* [ Congress Can No Longer Ignore Corporate Control of the Media]
* [ Bernie Sanders: Alone in the House]
* [ Vermont Election Results — U. S. House of Representatives, 1791–2004]
* [ Exceedingly Social, But Doesn't Like Parties — Washington Post]
* [ The Socialist Senator — New York Times Sunday Magazine, 21 January 2007]
* [ Sanders Turns Blind Eye To Victims, Sponsors Deadly MOTHERS Act]

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