Bernie Sanders

Senator from Vermont
Jump to  stances on the issues
Bernie Sanders dropped out of the presidential race on April 8, 2020. This page is no longer being updated.
Sanders, an independent, is back after waging an unsuccessful challenge to Hillary Clinton in 2016 with a democratic socialist platform that included free college tuition. His positions on those issues have driven the policy debate within the Democratic Party ever since. He was elected to the Senate in 2006 and was previously in the House for 16 years.
University of Chicago, B.A. (1964)
September 8, 1941
Jane Sanders; divorced from Deborah Shiling
Levi (son with Susan Mott)
Heather, Carina and David
Congressman from Vermont, 1991-2007;
Mayor of Burlington, 1981-1989


Bernie Sanders Fast Facts
Updated 11:59 AM ET, Tue Aug 30, 2022
Here is a look at the life of US Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont and former 2020 presidential candidate. Personal Birth date: September 8, 1941 Birth place: Brooklyn, New York Birth name: Bernard Sanders Father: Eli Sanders, paint salesman Mother: Dorothy (Glassberg) Sanders Marriages: Jane (O'Meara) Sanders (1988-present); Deborah (Shiling) Messing (married and divorced in the 1960s) Children: With Susan Mott: Levi; stepchildren with Jane (O'Meara) Sanders: Heather, Carina, David Education: Attended Brooklyn College, 1959-1960; University of Chicago, B.A. in political science, 1964 Religion: Jewish, though he has told the Washington Post he is "not actively involved with organized religion" Other Facts Although independent in the US Senate, Sanders has run as a Democrat in his two bids for the presidential nomination, in 2016 and 2020. His father's family died in the Holocaust. During the 1960s, he spent half a year on a kibbutz in Israel. Was a member of the Young People's Socialist League while at the University of Chicago. The longest serving independent member of Congress in American history. Sanders applied for conscientious objector status during the Vietnam War. Nominated for a Grammy Award but did not win. Timeline August 28, 1963 - Attends the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. 1972, 1976, 1986 - Unsuccessful bids for governor of Vermont. 1972, 1974 - Unsuccessful bids for the US Senate. 1981 - Wins the race for mayor of Burlington, Vermont, by 10 votes, running as an independent. 1981-1989 - Mayor of Burlington for four terms. 1988 - Unsuccessful bid for the US House of Representatives. 1990 - Wins a seat on the US House of Representatives by about 16% of the vote. 1991-2007 - Serves eight terms in the US House of Representatives. 1991 - Co-founds the Congressional Progressive Caucus. 2006 - Wins a seat on the US Senate with 65% of the vote. January 4, 2007-present - Serves in the US Senate. December 10, 2010 - Holds a filibuster for more than eight hours against the reinstatement of tax cuts formulated during the administration of President George W. Bush. The speech is published in book form in 2011 as "The Speech: A Historic Filibuster on Corporate Greed and the Decline of Our Middle Class." 2012 - Wins reelection for a second term in the US Senate. Receives 71% of the vote. 2013-2015 - Serves as chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs. April 30, 2015 - Announces his run for the Democratic presidential nomination in an email to supporters and media. May 1, 2015 - Sanders' campaign raises more than $1.5 million in its first 24 hours. January 17, 2016 - Sanders unveils his $1.38 trillion per year "Medicare-for-All" health care plan. February 9, 2016 - Sanders wins the New Hampshire primary, claiming victory with 60% of the vote. He's the first Jewish politician to win a presidential nominating contest. July 12, 2016 - Endorses Hillary Clinton for president. August 21, 2017 - Sanders pens a commentary article in Fortune magazine outlining his health care proposal "Medicare-for-all." November 28, 2017 - Is nominated, along with actor Mark Ruffalo, for a Grammy in the Spoken Word category for "Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In." February 26, 2018 - Sanders' son, Levi Sanders, announces he is running for Congress in New Hampshire. He later loses his bid in the Democratic primary. November 6, 2018 - Wins reelection to the US Senate for a third term with more than 67% of the vote. January 2, 2019 - The New York Times reports that several women who worked on Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign had come forward alleging they had experienced sexual harassment, pay disparities and targeted disrespect by campaign members. Sanders immediately responds to the allegations, claiming that he was not aware of any of the claims and apologizes to "any woman who feels like she was not treated appropriately." February 19, 2019 - Announces that he is running for president during an interview with Vermont Public Radio. February 20, 2019 - According to his campaign, Sanders raises nearly $6 million in the first 24 hours following the launch of his 2020 presidential bid. March 15, 2019 - Sanders' presidential campaign staff unionizes, making it the first major party presidential campaign to employ a formally organized workforce. August 22, 2019 - Sanders unveils his $16.3 trillion Green New Deal plan. October 1, 2019 - After experiencing chest discomfort at a campaign rally, Sanders undergoes treatment to address blockage in an artery. He has two stents successfully inserted. October 4, 2019 - The Sanders campaign releases a statement that he has been discharged from the hospital after being treated for a heart attack. "After two and a half days in the hospital, I feel great, and after taking a short time off, I look forward to getting back to work," Sanders says in the statement. February 3, 2020 - The Iowa Democratic caucuses take place, but the process descends into chaos due to poor planning by the state party, a faulty app that was supposed to calculate results and an overwhelmed call center. That uncertainty leads to delayed results and a drawn-out process with both Sanders' and former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg's campaigns raising concerns. February 27, 2020 - Sanders' presidential campaign challenges the results of the Iowa caucuses partial recount just hours after the state's Democratic Party releases its results. In a complaint sent to the Iowa Democratic Party and Democratic National Committee, the Sanders campaign claims the state party violated its own rules by allowing the Buttigieg campaign to partake in the process because they didn't meet the proper requirements. February 29, 2020 - The Iowa Democratic Party certifies the results from the state's caucuses, with Sanders coming in second behind Buttigieg and picking up 12 pledged delegates to Buttigieg's 14. The certification by the party's State Central Committee includes a 26-14, vote, saying the party violated its rules by complying with the Buttigieg campaign's partial recanvass and recount requests. April 8, 2020 - Announces he is suspending his presidential campaign. April 13, 2020 - Endorses former Vice President Joe Biden for president. January 28, 2021 - Sanders raises $1.8 million for charity through the sale of merchandise inspired by the viral photo of him and his mittens on Inauguration Day.


climate crisis
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Sanders has described climate change – now as well as during his 2016 run for president – as a global security threat. He is a leading proponent of the Green New Deal, the broad plan to address renewable-energy infrastructure and climate change proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. In August 2019, Sanders released a $16.3 trillion climate change program. His targets include meeting the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s goal of 100% renewable energy for electricity and transportation by 2030; cutting domestic emissions by 71% over that period; creating a $526 billion electric "smart grid”; investing $200 billion in the Green Climate Fund; and prioritizing what activists call a “just transition” for fossil fuel workers who would be dislocated during the transition. The Vermont independent would also cut off billions in subsidies to fossil fuel companies and impose bans on extractive practices, including fracking and mountaintop coal mining, while halting the import and export of coal, oil and natural gas. Sanders vows to recommit the US to the Paris climate accord, a landmark 2015 deal on global warming targets that Trump has pledged to abandon. More on Sanders’ climate crisis policy
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Sanders introduced his 21st-century Economic Bill of Rights in June 2019, in which he pledged “once and for all that every American, regardless of his or her income, is entitled to the right to a decent job that pays a living wage; the right to quality health care; the right to a complete education; the right to affordable housing; the right to a clean environment; and the right to a secure retirement.” In October 2019, he introduced a plan that would guarantee workers eventually take control of 20% stakes in the country’s largest companies through the issuance of new stock and would mandate that employees elect 45% of corporate boards of directors. The Sanders plan would also impose strict new guidelines on mega-mergers, while asking a revamped Federal Trade Commission to review deals pushed through during the Trump administration. Throughout his career, Sanders has been pro-union, saying in January, “If we are serious about reducing income and wealth inequality and creating good-paying jobs, we have to substantially increase the number of union jobs in this country.” In 2017, he supported a 10-year infrastructure plan costing $1 trillion. At the time, proponents estimated the plan would create 15 million jobs. He had put forth a similar proposal during his first presidential campaign. More on Sanders’ economic policy
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Sanders would eliminate tuition and fees at, as his campaign says, “four-year public colleges and universities, tribal colleges, community colleges, trade schools, and apprenticeship programs.” He unveiled legislation in June 2019 that would wipe out $1.6 trillion in undergraduate and graduate student loan debt for about 45 million people. The plan has no eligibility limitations and would be paid for with a new tax on Wall Street speculation. Sanders frequently describes education as a “human right.” That means “making public colleges, universities and historically black colleges and universities tuition-free and debt-free by tripling the work study program, expanding Pell grants and other financial incentives," he said. His “Thurgood Marshall Plan for Public Education” would seek to improve the K-12 system by taking aim at de facto segregation and public-school funding disparities while banning for-profit charter schools. More on Sanders’ education policy
gun violence
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Sanders describes “an epidemic of gun violence” in the US and has pushed for expanded background checks and the closing of assorted loopholes in firearm purchases. Sanders has consistently voted for legislation that would ban so-called assault weapons and said he would seek to do the same for high-capacity magazines. He said he would push for harsher punishments for “straw” purchases, when someone purchases a gun for someone who cannot legally possess a firearm. More on Sanders’ gun violence policy
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Sanders introduced “Medicare for All” legislation in 2017, which would have created a national government-run program providing comprehensive coverage with no premiums, deductibles or copays. He has taken this version of the plan one step further since its initial rollout to include long-term care at home and in the community for senior citizens and people with disabilities. Unlike some of his presidential opponents, Sanders says there should be no private insurance option except for items not covered by his Medicare for All act, such as elective procedures. Sanders argues that the increase in taxes would be more than offset by eliminating the premiums, deductibles and copayments associated with private health insurance. When asked during the first Democratic presidential debate about whether taxes would go up as a result of his health care plan, Sanders said: “Yes, they will pay more in taxes, but less in health care for what they get.” Sanders also supports importing drugs, allowing Medicare to negotiate drug prices and pegging the price of medicine in the US to the median price in five other developed nations. More on Sanders’ health care policy
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Sanders has called for comprehensive immigration legislation, which includes providing a path toward citizenship for undocumented immigrants. He has proposed providing legal status for those covered by the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which shields from deportation some undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as children. Sanders has also called for restructuring Immigration and Customs Enforcement. More on Sanders’ immigration policy


'It's never, ever OK to be a racist,' Rick Scott says when asked about Trump's personal attack on Elaine Chao
Updated 9:54 PM ET, Sun Oct 2, 2022
Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida said Sunday that "it's never ever OK to be a racist" when asked about former President Donald Trump's personal attack on Elaine Chao, his onetime Transportation secretary. Scott offered a measured response to Trump's mocking of a notable Asian American in the GOP. Trump, in a Friday night post on his social media platform Truth Social, directly ridiculed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Chao, the Kentucky Republican's spouse, referring to her as the senator's "China loving wife, Coco Chow!" "It's never, ever OK to be a racist," Scott told CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union" when asked whether Trump's comments were acceptable. "I think you always have to be careful, you know, if you're in the public eye ... how you say things. You want to make sure you're inclusive." "I hope no one is racist," the Florida senator added. "I hope no one says anything that's inappropriate." In his Truth Social post last week, Trump said McConnell had a "death wish" for supporting "Democrat sponsored bills," something Scott avoided criticizing when asked by Bash if he was OK with it, though he later added, "I don't condone violence." "I think, you know, what the President is saying is, 'You know, there's been a lot of money spent over the last two years. We've got to make sure we don't keep caving to Democrats. It's causing an unbelievable inflation and causing more and more debt.'" It was not clear what bills Trump was criticizing on Friday, or what he meant as he accused McConnell of believing in the Green New Deal, a package of progressive proposals that McConnell blocked from coming to the Senate floor for a vote when he was majority leader. Scott, who chairs Senate Republicans' campaign arm, saw his own disagreement with McConnell spill into the public over the summer. "Candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome," McConnell said in August, before later describing the GOP's chances of flipping the Senate as a "50/50 proposition." Scott responded in an op-ed without mentioning the Kentucky Republican by name, writing, "If you want to trash-talk our candidates to help Democrats, pipe down." (Scott denied last month that his op-ed was directed at McConnell.)