|United States Senator|
January 3, 2007
Serving with Patrick Leahy
|Preceded by||Jim Jeffords|
|Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee|
January 3, 2015
|Preceded by||Jeff Sessions|
|Chair of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee|
January 3, 2013 – January 3, 2015
|Preceded by||Patty Murray|
|Succeeded by||Johnny Isakson|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Vermont's at-large district
January 3, 1991 – January 3, 2007
|Preceded by||Peter Plympton Smith|
|Succeeded by||Peter Welch|
|37th Mayor of Burlington|
April 6, 1981 – April 4, 1989
|Preceded by||Gordon Paquette|
|Succeeded by||Peter Clavelle|
(1941-09-08) September 8, 1941 (age 76)
New York City, U.S.
|Political party||Independent (1979–2015; 2016–present)|
|Liberty Union (1971–1977)|
|Spouse(s)||Deborah Shiling Messing (m. 1964; div. 1966)|
Jane O'Meara (m. 1988)
|Relatives||Larry Sanders (brother)|
University of Chicago (B.A.)
Bernard Sanders (born September 8, 1941) is an American politician serving as the juniorUnited States Senator from Vermont since 2007; he is the longest-serving independent in U.S. congressional history. Since his election to the House of Representatives in 1990, he has caucused with the Democratic Party, which has entitled him to congressional committee assignments and at times given Democrats a majority. A self-described democratic socialist and a New Deal-era American progressive, Sanders is pro-labor and emphasizes reversing economic inequality. Many scholars consider his views to be more in line with social democracy.
Sanders was born and raised in the Brooklyn borough of New York City and graduated from the University of Chicago in 1964. While a student he was an active protest organizer for the Congress of Racial Equality and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee during the Civil Rights Movement. After settling in Vermont in 1968, Sanders ran unsuccessful third-party campaigns for Governor and U.S. Senator in the early to mid-1970s. As an independent, he was elected Mayor of Burlington—the state's most populous city—in 1981, by a margin of ten votes. He went on to be reelected as mayor three times. In 1990, he was elected to represent Vermont's at-large congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he co-founded the Congressional Progressive Caucus in 1991. He served as a congressman for 16 years before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006. In 2012, he was reelected with 71% of the popular vote.
Sanders announced his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination on April 30, 2015. Initially considered a long shot, Sanders won 23 primaries and caucuses and approximately 43% of pledged delegates to Hillary Clinton's 55%. His campaign was noted for its supporters' enthusiasm, as well as for his rejection of large donations from corporations, the financial industry, and any associated Super PAC. On July 12, 2016, Sanders formally endorsed Clinton in her unsuccessful general election campaign against RepublicanDonald Trump, while urging his supporters to continue the "political revolution" his campaign had begun.
Sanders has built a reputation as a leading progressive voice on issues such as campaign finance reform, corporate welfare, global warming, income inequality, LGBT rights, parental leave, and universal healthcare. Sanders has long been critical of U.S. foreign policy and was an early and outspoken opponent of the Iraq War, the First Gulf War, and U.S. support for the Contras in Nicaragua. He is also outspoken on civil liberties and civil rights, criticizing racial discrimination in the criminal justice system as well as advocating for privacy rights against mass surveillance policies such as the USA Patriot Act and the NSA surveillance programs.
Sanders was born on September 8, 1941, in Brooklyn, New York City. His father, Elias Ben Yehuda Sanders, was born on September 14, 1904, in Słopnice, Poland (then the Austro-Hungarian province of Galicia), to a Jewish family; in 1921, the 17-year-old Elias immigrated to the United States, where he became a paint salesman. His mother, Dorothy "Dora" Sanders (née Glassberg), was born in New York City on October 2, 1912, to Jewish immigrant parents from Poland and Russia.
Sanders became interested in politics at an early age: "A guy named Adolf Hitler won an election in 1932. He won an election, and 50 million people died as a result of that election in World War II, including 6 million Jews. So what I learned as a little kid is that politics is, in fact, very important."[nb 1] In the 1940s, many of Sanders' relatives in German-occupied Poland were killed in the Holocaust, including his father's half-brother, Bernie's uncle Abraham Schnützer, who was killed in 1942.
Sanders lived on East 26th Street in Midwood, Brooklyn. He attended elementary school at P.S. 197 in Brooklyn, where he won a borough championship on the basketball team. He attended Hebrew school in the afternoons, and celebrated his bar mitzvah in 1954. Sanders's older brother, Larry, said that during their childhood, the family never lacked for food or clothing, but major purchases, "like curtains or a rug," were difficult to afford.
Sanders attended James Madison High School, also in Brooklyn, where he was captain of the track team and took third place in the New York City indoor one-mile race. In high school, Sanders lost his first election, finishing last out of three candidates for the student body presidency. Not long after his high school graduation, his mother died at the age of 46; his father died a few years later on August 4, 1962, at the age of 57.
Sanders studied at Brooklyn College for a year in 1959–60 before transferring to the University of Chicago and graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in political science in 1964. He has described himself as a mediocre college student because the classroom was "boring and irrelevant," while the community provided his most significant learning.
See also: Electoral history of Bernie Sanders
Main article: University of Chicago sit-ins
While at the University of Chicago, Sanders joined the Young People's Socialist League (the youth affiliate of the Socialist Party of America), and was active in the Civil Rights Movement as a student organizer for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Under Sanders's chairmanship, the university chapter of CORE merged with the university chapter of SNCC. In January 1962, Sanders led a rally at the University of Chicago administration building to protest university president George Wells Beadle's segregated campus housing policy. "We feel it is an intolerable situation when Negro and white students of the university cannot live together in university-owned apartments," Sanders said at the protest. Sanders and 32 other students then entered the building and camped outside the president's office, performing the first civil rights sit-in in Chicago history. After weeks of sit-ins, Beadle and the university formed a commission to investigate discrimination.Joan Mahoney, a member of the University of Chicago CORE chapter at the time and a fellow participant in the sit-ins, described Sanders in a 2016 interview as "...a swell guy, a nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn, but he wasn't terribly charismatic. One of his strengths, though, was his ability to work with a wide group of people, even those he didn't agree with". Sanders once spent a day putting up fliers protesting against police brutality, only to eventually notice that a Chicago police car was shadowing him and taking them all down.
Sanders attended the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech. That summer, he was convicted of resisting arrest during a demonstration against segregation in Chicago's public schools and was fined $25.
In addition to his civil rights activism during the 1960s and 1970s, Sanders was active in several peace and antiwar movements. He was a member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Student Peace Union while attending the University of Chicago. Sanders applied for conscientious objector status during the Vietnam War; his application was eventually turned down, by which point he was too old to be drafted. Although he opposed the war, Sanders never criticized those who fought and has been a strong supporter of veterans' benefits. Sanders also worked on the reelection campaign of Leon Despres, a prominent Chicago alderman who was opposed to mayor Richard J. Daley's Democratic Party machine. During his student years he also read a variety of American and European political authors, from Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and John Dewey to Karl Marx and Erich Fromm.
After graduating from college, Sanders returned to New York City, where he initially worked at a variety of jobs, including Head Start teacher, psychiatric aide, and carpenter. In 1968, Sanders moved to Vermont because he had been "captivated by rural life." After his arrival there he worked as a carpenter, filmmaker, and writer who created and sold "radical film strips" and other educational materials to schools. He also wrote several articles for the alternative publication The Vermont Freeman.
Liberty Union campaigns
Sanders began his electoral political career in 1971 as a member of the Liberty Union Party, which originated in the anti-war movement and the People's Party. He ran as the Liberty Union candidate for governor of Vermont in 1972 and 1976 and as a candidate for U.S. senator in 1972 and 1974. In the 1974 senatorial race, Sanders finished third (5,901 votes; 4.1%), behind 33-year-old Chittenden County State's Attorney Patrick Leahy (D, VI; 70,629 votes; 49.4%) and two-term incumbent U.S. Representative Dick Mallary (R; 66,223 votes; 46.3%).
The 1976 campaign proved to be the zenith of Liberty Union's influence, with Sanders collecting 11,000 votes for governor and the party. This forced the races for lieutenant governor and secretary of state to be decided by the state legislature when its vote total prevented either the Republican or Democratic candidates for those offices from garnering a majority of votes. The campaign drained the finances and energy of the Liberty Union, however, and in October 1977, less than a year after the conclusion of the 1976 campaign, Sanders and the Liberty Union candidate for attorney general, Nancy Kaufman, announced their retirement from the party.
Following his resignation from the Liberty Union Party in 1977, Sanders worked as a writer and the director of the nonprofit American People's Historical Society (APHS). While with the APHS, he made a 30-minute documentary about American Socialist leader and presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs.
Mayor of Burlington
In 1980, Sanders ran for mayor of Burlington, Vermont (pop. 38,000), at the suggestion of his close friend and political confidante Richard Sugarman, a professor of religion at the University of Vermont. He was mayor for eight years, from April 6, 1981, to April 4, 1989.
The 39-year-old Sanders ran against incumbent Democratic mayor Gordon "Gordie" Paquette, a five-term mayor who had served as a member of the Burlington City Council for 13 years before that, building extensive community ties and a willingness to cooperate with Republican leaders in controlling appointments to various commissions. Republicans had found Paquette so unobjectionable that they failed to field a candidate in the March 1981 race against him, leaving Sanders as his principal opponent. Sanders's effort was further aided by the decision of the candidate of the Citizens Party, Greg Guma, to exit the race so as not to split the progressive vote. Two other candidates in the race, independents Richard Bove and Joe McGrath, proved to be essentially non-factors in the campaign, with the battle coming down to Paquette and Sanders.
Sanders castigated the pro-development incumbent as an ally of prominent shopping center developer Antonio Pomerleau, while Paquette warned of ruin for Burlington if Sanders was elected. The Sanders campaign was bolstered by a wave of optimistic volunteers as well as by a series of endorsements from university professors, social welfare agencies, and the police union. The final result came as a shock to the local political establishment, with the maverick Sanders winning by just 10 votes.
Sanders was reelected three times, defeating both Democratic and Republican candidates. He received 53% of the vote in 1983 and 55% in 1985. In his final run for mayor in 1987, Sanders defeated Paul Lafayette, a Democrat endorsed by both major parties. In 1986, Sanders unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Governor Madeleine Kunin (D) in her run for reelection. Running as an independent, Sanders finished third with 14.4% of the vote. Kunin won with 47%, followed by Lt. Governor Peter P. Smith (R) with 38%.
After serving four two-year terms, Sanders chose not to seek reelection in 1989. He lectured in political science at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government that year and at Hamilton College in 1991.
During his mayoralty, Sanders called himself a socialist and was so described in the press. During his 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 they had enough to keep the council from overriding Sanders's vetoes. Under Sanders, Burlington became the first city in the country to fund community-trust housing.
During the 1980s, Sanders was a consistent critic of U.S. foreign policy in Latin America. In 1985, Burlington City Hall hosted a foreign policy speech by Noam Chomsky. In his introduction, Sanders praised Chomsky as "a very vocal and important voice in the wilderness of intellectual life in America" and said he was "delighted to welcome a person who I think we're all very proud of."
Sanders's administration balanced the city budget and drew a minor league baseball team, the Vermont Reds, then the Double-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, to Burlington. Under his leadership, Burlington sued the local television cable franchise, winning reduced rates for customers.
As mayor, Sanders led extensive downtown revitalization projects. One of his primary achievements was the improvement of Burlington's Lake Champlain waterfront. In 1981, Sanders campaigned against the unpopular plans by Burlington developer Tony Pomerleau to convert the then-industrial waterfront property owned by the Central Vermont Railway into expensive condominiums, hotels, and offices. Sanders ran under the slogan "Burlington is not for sale" and successfully supported a plan that redeveloped the waterfront area into a mixed-use district featuring housing, parks, and public space. Today, the waterfront area includes many parks and miles of public beach and bike paths, a boathouse, and a science center.
Sanders hosted and produced a public-access television program, Bernie Speaks with the Community, from 1986 to 1988. He collaborated with 30 Vermont musicians to record a folk album, We Shall Overcome, in 1987.
In 1987, U.S. News & World Report ranked Sanders as one of America's best mayors. As of 2013[update], Burlington was regarded as one of the most livable cities in the nation.
U.S. House of Representatives
See also: Electoral history of Bernie Sanders
Sanders's 1990 victory made him the first independent candidate to be elected to Congress since Frazier Reams in 1950. It was noted by The Washington Post and others as the first election of a socialist to the United States House of Representatives in decades. Sanders served in the House from 1991 until he became a senator in 2007.
In 1988, incumbent Republican Congressman Jim Jeffords decided to run for the U.S. Senate, vacating the House seat representing Vermont's at-large congressional district. Former Lieutenant GovernorPeter P. Smith (R) won the House election with a plurality, securing 41% of the vote. Sanders, who ran as an independent, placed second with 38% of the vote, while Democratic State Representative Paul N. Poirier placed third with 19% of the vote. Two years later, Sanders ran for the seat again and defeated the incumbent Smith by a margin of 56% to 39%.
Sanders was the first independent elected to the U.S. House of Representatives since Frazier Reams's election to represent Ohio 40 years earlier. He served as a representative for 16 years, winning reelection by large margins except during the 1994 Republican Revolution, when he won by 3.3%, with 49.8% of the vote.
During his first year in the House, Sanders often alienated allies and colleagues with his criticism of both political parties as working primarily on behalf of the wealthy. In 1991, Sanders co-founded the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a group of mostly liberal Democrats that Sanders chaired for its first eight years, while still refusing to join the Democratic Party or caucus.
In 1993, Sanders voted against the Brady Bill, which mandated federal background checks when buying guns and imposed a waiting period on firearm purchasers in the United States; the bill passed by a vote of 238–187.
In 1994, Sanders voted in favor of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. Sanders said he voted for the bill "because it included the Violence Against Women Act and the ban on certain assault weapons". He was nevertheless extremely critical of the other parts of the bill. Though he acknowledged that "clearly, there are some people in our society who are horribly violent, who are deeply sick and sociopathic, and clearly these people must be put behind bars in order to protect society from them", he maintained in his intervention before the House that the government's ill-thought policies played a large part in "dooming tens of millions of young people to a future of bitterness, misery, hopelessness, drugs, crime, and violence". In this same intervention, he argued that the repressive policies introduced by the bill were not addressing the causes of violence, stating that "we can create meaningful jobs, rebuilding our society, or we can build more jails".
In 2005, he voted for the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. The act's purpose was to prevent firearms manufacturers and dealers from being held liable for negligence when crimes have been committed with their products. In 2015, Sanders defended his vote, saying: "If somebody has a gun and it falls into the hands of a murderer and the murderer kills somebody with a gun, do you hold the gun manufacturer responsible? Not any more than you would hold a hammer company responsible if somebody beats somebody over the head with a hammer."
Sanders voted against the resolutions authorizing the use of force against Iraq in 1991 and 2002, and opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He voted for the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists that has been cited as the legal justification for controversial military actions since the September 11 attacks. Sanders voted for a non-binding resolution expressing support for troops at the outset of the invasion of Iraq, but gave a floor speech criticizing the partisan nature of the vote and the George W. Bush administration's actions in the run-up to the war. Regarding the investigation of what turned out to be a leak of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity by a State Department official, Sanders stated: "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."
On November 2, 2005, Sanders voted against the Online Freedom of Speech Act, which would have exempted the Internet from the campaign finance restrictions of the McCain–Feingold Bill.
Positions on legislation
Sanders was a consistent critic of the Patriot Act. As a member of Congress, he voted against the original Patriot Act legislation. After its 357-to-66 passage in the House, Sanders sponsored and voted for several subsequent amendments and acts attempting to curtail its effects, and voted against each re-authorization. In June 2005, Sanders proposed an amendment to limit Patriot Act 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 of that year in House–Senate negotiations and never became law.
In March 2006, after a series of resolutions passed in various Vermont towns calling for him to bring articles of impeachment against George W. Bush, Sanders stated that it would be "impractical to talk about impeachment" with Republicans in control of the House and Senate. Still, Sanders made no secret of his opposition to the Bush Administration, which he regularly criticized for its cuts to social programs.
Sanders was a vocal critic of Federal Reserve ChairAlan Greenspan; in June 2003, during a question-and-answer discussion with the then-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". In October 2008, after Sanders had been elected to the Senate, Greenspan admitted to Congress that his economic ideology regarding risky mortgage loans was flawed. In 1998, Sanders voted and advocated against rolling back the Glass–Steagall Legislation provisions that kept investment banks and commercial banks separate entities.
Main articles: United States Senate election in Vermont, 2006 and United States Senate election in Vermont, 2012
Sanders entered the race for the U.S. Senate on April 21, 2005, after Senator Jim Jeffords announced that he would not seek a fourth term. Chuck Schumer, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, endorsed Sanders, a critical move as it meant that no Democrat running against Sanders could expect to receive financial help from the party. Sanders was also endorsed by Senate Minority LeaderHarry 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 percent of the time." Then-Senator Barack Obama also campaigned for Sanders in Vermont in March 2006. 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 as the winner just after the polls closed, before any returns came in. He was reelected in 2012 with 71% of the vote.
Sanders was only the third senator from Vermont to caucus with the Democrats, after Jeffords and Leahy. His caucusing with the Democrats gave them a 51–49 majority in the Senate during the 110th Congress in 2007–08. The Democrats needed 51 seats to control the Senate because Vice PresidentDick Cheney would have broken any tie in favor of the Republicans.
Sanders's filibuster against the Middle Class Tax Relief Act of 2010, which extended the Bush tax cuts, received national news coverage. He used the filibuster to argue that this legislation would favor the wealthiest Americans.
As an independent, Sanders worked out a deal with the Senate Democratic leadership in which he agreed to vote with the Democrats on all procedural matters, except with permission from Democratic WhipDick Durbin (a request that is rarely made or granted). In return, he was allowed to keep his seniority and received the committee seats that would have been available to him as a Democrat; in 2013–14, he was chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs (during the Veterans Health Administration scandal). Sanders was free to vote as he pleased on policy matters, but almost always voted with the Democrats.
Sanders became the ranking minority member on the Senate Budget Committee in January 2015; he had previously been chair of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee for two years. Since January 2017, he has been Chair of the Senate Democratic Outreach Committee. Sanders's campaign against Hillary Clinton for the party's 2016 U.S. presidential nomination raised more money in small, individual contributions than any other in American history, and helped him rise to international recognition.
Positions on tax and finance legislation
On September 24, 2008, Sanders posted an open letter to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson decrying the initial bank bailout proposal; it drew more than 8,000 citizen cosigners in 24 hours. On January 26, 2009, Sanders and Democrats Robert Byrd, Russ Feingold, and Tom Harkin were the sole majority members to vote against confirming Timothy Geithner as United States Secretary of the Treasury.
On December 10, 2010, Sanders delivered an 8 1⁄2-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?" In response to the speech, hundreds of people signed online petitions urging Sanders to run in the 2012 presidential election, 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's speech was 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.
On March 17, 2016, Sanders said he would support Merrick Garland's nomination to the Supreme Court, though he added, "there are some more progressive judges out there."
Sanders opposed Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the Court, saying that Gorsuch had "refused to answer legitimate questions." Sanders also objected to the possibility of Senate Republicans using the nuclear option to "choke off debate and ram the nomination through the Senate."
Senate Budget Committee
In January 2015, Sanders became the ranking minority member of the Senate Budget Committee. He appointed economics professor Stephanie Kelton, a modern monetary theory scholar and self-described "deficit owl", as the chief economic adviser for the committee's Democratic minority and presented a report aimed at helping "rebuild the disappearing middle class", which included proposals to raise the minimum wage, boost infrastructure spending, and increase Social Security payments.
According to his senate website, Sanders's committee assignments during 2016 were as follows:
Mr Macron is expected to drive a hard bargain over Brexit, striking a strident note during his campaign by warning that negotiations would be “no walk in the park” and that Britain would be left in “servitude” as a result of leaving the EU.
However, the result was welcomed by some senior Conservatives who argued Mr Macron would bring much-needed stability to Europe ahead of the Brexit negotiations.
“We don’t want to be negotiating with an EU in existential crisis – which it would be if Le Pen had won,” said Crispin Blunt, the Tory chairman of the Foreign Affairs select committee.
European leaders rushed to welcome the victory of Mr Macron who had flown EU flags at rallies throughout his campaign and has promised to lead a ‘rebirth’ of the European project.
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, had a “very warm” call with Mr Macron, his team reported while the German chancellor called his election a “victory for a strong, united Europe”.
Ms Le Pen’s party had made it clear they were gunning for at least 40 per cent of the vote. She failed to achieve such heights, but her performance maintained her record of improving the Front National’s score in every election since she became leader in 2011.
With around 11 million votes in her favour, Ms Le Pen, 48, won more than twice the amount her estranged father and FN co-founder, Jean-Marie, mustered in 2002. Ms Le Pen said the “historic and massive result” turned her “patriotic and republican alliance” into the “main opposition force against the new president’s project”.