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Bernie Sanders

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Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders.jpg
U.S. Senate, Vermont
In office
January 3, 2007-Present
Term ends
January 3, 2019
Years in position 8
PredecessorJames M. Jeffords (R)
Base salary$174,000/year
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 6, 2012
Cost per vote$15.62 in 2012
Next generalNovember 2018
Term limitsN/A
Prior offices
U.S. House of Representatives
High schoolJames Madison High School, Brooklyn, NY
Bachelor'sUniversity of Chicago
Date of birthSeptember 8, 1941
Place of birthBrooklyn, N.Y.
Net worth$460,506
Office website
Campaign website
Bernard "Bernie" Sanders (b. September 8, 1941, in Brooklyn, N.Y.) is an Independent member of the U.S. Senate from the state of Vermont. Sanders was first elected to the Senate in 2006. While he considers himself a socialist, and ran as an Independent, he is a member of the Senate Democratic Caucus.[1][2]

Sanders most recently won re-election in 2012.[3]

Based on analysis of multiple outside rankings, Sanders is an average Democratic member of Congress, meaning he will vote with the Democratic Party on the majority of bills.


Sanders was born in 1941 in Brooklyn, New York, where he also attended high school. He earned his B.S. from the University of Chicago in 1964 and went on to lecture at Harvard University and Hamilton College in New York. Sanders has also worked as a carpenter and journalist.[4]

In January 2012, Sanders was named a "Top-20 US Progressive," according to The New Statesman, a magazine based in the United Kingdom. Other members on the list included Elizabeth Warren, Paul Krugman, Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky and Rachel Maddow.[5]


Below is an abbreviated outline of Sanders' academic, professional and political career:[6]

Committee assignments

U.S. Senate


Sanders serves on the following committees:[7]


Sanders served on the following Senate committees:[8]


Sanders served on the following Senate committees:[6]

Key votes

113th Congress


The second session of the 113th Congress enacted into law 114 out of the 3,036 introduced bills (3.8 percent). Comparatively, the 112th Congress had 4.2 percent of introduced bills enacted into law in the second session.[9] The Senate confirmed 13,949 out of 18,323 executive nominations received (76.1 percent). For more information pertaining to Sanders's voting record in the 113th Congress, please see the below sections.[10]

National security

John Brennan CIA nomination

Nay3.png Sanders voted against the confirmation of John Brennan as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The nomination was confirmed by the Senate on March 7, 2013, with a vote of 63 - 34. Most Democrats supported the nomination, while Republicans were somewhat divided with roughly one-third supporting the nomination.[11]


No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013

Yea3.png Sanders voted for H.R.325 -- No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013. The bill passed the Senate on January 31, 2013, with a vote of 64 - 34. The purpose of the bill was to temporarily suspend the debt ceiling and withhold the pay of members of Congress until a budget could be passed. The vote largely followed party lines with Democrats overwhelmingly supporting it and many Republicans in opposition to the bill.[12]

Government shutdown
See also: United States budget debate, 2013

Yea3.png During the shutdown in October 2013, the Senate rejected, down party lines, every House-originated bill that stripped the budget of funding for the Affordable Care Act. A deal was reached late on October 16, 2013, just hours before the debt ceiling deadline. The bill to reopen the government, H.R. 2775, lifted the $16.7 trillion debt limit and funded the government through January 15, 2014. Federal employees also received retroactive pay for the shutdown period. The only concession made by Senate Democrats was to require income verification for Obamacare subsidies.[13] The final vote on H.R. 2775 was 81-18, with all 18 votes against the bill from Republican members. Sanders voted with the Democratic Party for the bill.[14]


Source: This graphic was generated by Find The Best.
Mexico-U.S. border

Nay3.png Sanders voted against Senate Amendment 1197 -- Requires the Completion of the Fence Along the United States-Mexico Border. The amendment was rejected by the Senate on June 18, 2013, with a vote of 39 - 54. The purpose of the amendment was to require the completion of 350 miles of fence described in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 before registered provisional immigrant status may be granted. It would also require 700 miles of fence be completed before the status of registered provisional immigrants may be changed to permanent resident status. The vote followed party lines.[15]

Social issues

Violence Against Women (2013)

Yea3.png Sanders voted for S.47 -- Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. The bill was passed by the Senate on February 12, 2013, with a vote of 78 - 22. The purpose of the bill was to combat violence against women, from domestic violence to international trafficking in persons. All 22 dissenting votes were cast by Republicans.[16]

Previous congressional sessions

Fiscal Cliff

Yea3.png Sanders voted for the fiscal cliff compromise bill, which made permanent most of the Bush tax cuts originally passed in 2001 and 2003 while also raising tax rates on the highest income levels. The bill was passed in the Senate by an 89 - 8 vote on January 1, 2013.[17]


On The Issues Vote Match

Sanders' Vote Match results from On The Issues.
See also: On The Issues Vote Match

On The Issues conducts a VoteMatch analysis of elected officials based on 20 issue areas. Rather than relying on incumbents to complete the quiz themselves, the VoteMatch analysis is conducted using voting records, statements to the media, debate transcripts or citations from books authored by or about the candidate. Based on the results of the quiz, Sanders is a Hard-Core Liberal. Sanders received a score of 93 percent on social issues and 5 percent on economic issues.[18]

On The Issues organization logo.

The table below contains the results of analysis compiled by staff at On The Issues.

On The Issues Vote Quiz[19]
Economic Issues Social Issues
Issue Stance Issue Stance
Legally require hiring women & minorities Strongly Favors Abortion is a woman's unrestricted right Strongly Favors
Expand ObamaCare Strongly Favors Comfortable with same-sex marriage Strongly Favors
Vouchers for school choice Strongly Opposes Keep God in the public sphere Strongly Opposes
Absolute right to gun ownership Neutral Human needs over animal rights Strongly Opposes
Higher taxes on the wealthy Strongly Favors Stricter punishment reduces crime Strongly Opposes
Support & expand free trade Strongly Opposes Pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens Favors
Stricter limits on political campaign funds Favors Maintain US sovereignty from UN Strongly Opposes
Prioritize green energy Strongly Favors Expand the military Opposes
Stimulus better than market-led recovery Strongly Favors Stay out of Iran Strongly Favors
Privatize Social Security Strongly Opposes Never legalize marijuana Strongly Opposes
Note: Information last updated: 2015.[18] If you notice the rating has changed, email us.

Political positions

Sanders is a self-described "Democratic Socialist."[1][20]


Sanders wrote a letter to the director of the NSA in January 2014. Sanders asked the director, "Has the NSA spied, or is the NSA currently spying, on members of Congress or other American elected officials?" Sanders said he was concerned after hearing reports that the NSA spied on U.S. citizens and foreign governments. He acknowledged, "We must be vigilant and aggressive in protecting the American people from the very real danger of terrorist attacks." He also stressed the importance of not ."..undermining the constitutional rights that make us a free country."[21]

Fast food worker strikes

In December 2013, Sanders tweeted his support for raising the minimum wage for fast food workers. He tweeted, "Starvation wages for fast food workers," with a link to a speech that he gave on the Senate floor on the topic.[22]




See also: Bernie Sanders possible presidential campaign, 2016 and Presidential election, 2016

Sanders is considered a possible Democratic presidential candidate in 2016.


See also: United States Senate elections in Vermont, 2012

Sanders ran for re-election in the 2012 election for the U.S. Senate, representing Vermont. Sanders ran unopposed in the August 28, 2012, Democratic primary. He also ran as an Independent. He defeated John MacGovern (R), Cris Ericson (United States Marijuana Party), Laurel LaFramboise (VoteKISS), Pete Diamondstone (Liberty Union) and Peter Moss (Peace and Prosperity) in the general election on November 6, 2012.[23][24]

U.S. Senate, Vermont, General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Independent Green check mark transparent.pngBernie Sanders Incumbent 71.1% 207,848
     Republican John MacGovern 24.9% 72,898
     Third Cris Ericson 2% 5,924
     Third Laurel LaFramboise 0.3% 877
     Third Peter Moss 0.8% 2,452
     Third Pete Diamondstone 0.9% 2,511
Total Votes 292,510
Source: Vermont Board of Elections, "Official Election Results, 2012 General Election"

Full history

Campaign donors

Fundraising events

The below chart from Find The Best tracks the fundraising events Sanders attends.

Source: This graphic was generated by Find The Best.

Comprehensive donor information for Sanders is available dating back to 2012. Based on available campaign finance records, Sanders raised a total of $14,933,605 during that time period. This information was last updated on April 25, 2013.[34]

Bernie Sanders's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2012 U.S. Senate (Vermont) Won $7,229,492
2006 U.S. Senate (Vermont) Won $5,554,466
2004 US House (Vermont, At-large District) Won $836,307
2002 US House (Vermont, At-large District) Won $657,070
2000 US House (Vermont, At-large District) Won $656,270
Grand Total Raised $14,933,605


Sanders won re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2012. During that election cycle, Sanders' campaign committee raised a total of $7,229,492 and spent $3,247,555.[35]

Cost per vote

Sanders spent $15.62 per vote received in 2012.


Breakdown of the source of Sanders' campaign funds before the 2006 election.

Sanders won election to the U.S. Senate in 2006. During that election cycle, Sanders' campaign committee raised a total of $5,554,466 and spent $6,596,060.[36]

Personal Gain Index

Congressional Personal Gain Index graphic.png
See also: Personal Gain Index (U.S. Congress)

The Personal Gain Index (U.S. Congress) is a four-part measurement that illustrates the extent to which members of the U.S. Congress have prospered during their tenure as public servants.
It consists of four different metrics:

PGI: Change in net worth

See also: Changes in Net Worth of U.S. Senators and Representatives (Personal Gain Index) and Net worth of United States Senators and Representatives
Net Worth Metric graphic.png

Based on congressional financial disclosure forms and calculations made available by, Sanders' net worth as of 2012 was estimated between $116,014 to $804,998. That averages to $460,506, which is lower than the average net worth of Independent Senate members in 2012 of $8,096,792.50. Sanders ranked as the 84th most wealthy senator in 2012.[37] Between 2004 and 2012, Sanders' calculated net worth[38] increased by an average of 29 percent per year. Between 2004 and 2014, the average annual percentage increase for a member of Congress was 15.4 percent.[39]

Bernie Sanders Yearly Net Worth
YearAverage Net Worth
Growth from 2004 to 2012:228%
Average annual growth:29%[40]
Comparatively, the American citizen experienced a median yearly decline in net worth of -0.94%.[41]
The data used to calculate changes in net worth may include changes resulting from assets gained through marriage, inheritance, changes in family estates and/or trusts, changes in family business ownership and many other variables unrelated to a member's behavior in Congress.

PGI: Donation Concentration Metric

See also: The Donation Concentration Metric (U.S. Congress Personal Gain Index)

Filings required by the Federal Election Commission report on the industries that give to each candidate. Using campaign filings and information calculated by, Ballotpedia calculated the percentage of donations by industry received by each incumbent over the course of his or her career (or 1989 and later, if elected prior to 1988). In the 113th Congress, Sanders is the chair of the Veterans' Affairs Committee and chair of the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging. Sanders received the most donations from individuals and PACs employed by the Retired industry.

From 1989-2014, 13.59 percent of Sanders' career contributions came from the top five industries as listed below.[42]

Donation Concentration Metric graphic.png
Bernie Sanders Campaign Contributions
Total Raised $19,288,556
Total Spent $15,481,680
Chair of the Veterans' Affairs Committee
Chair of the Subcommittee on Primary Health and Aging
Top five industries that contributed to campaign committee
Industrial Unions$405,882
Public Sector Unions$386,015
Lawyers/Law Firms$307,173
% total in top industry5.62%
% total in top two industries7.89%
% total in top five industries13.59%


Like-minded colleagues

The website OpenCongress tracks the voting records of each member to determine with whom he or she votes most and least often.[43]

Sanders most often votes with:

Source: This graphic was generated by Find The Best.

Ideology and leadership

See also: GovTrack's Political Spectrum & Legislative Leadership ranking

Based on an analysis of bill sponsorship by GovTrack, Sanders was a "left leaning independent," as of August 20, 2014.[44] This was the same rating Sanders received in July 2013.[45]

Lifetime voting record

See also: Lifetime voting records of United States Senators and Representatives

According to the website GovTrack, Sanders missed 42 of 2,386 roll call votes from January 2007 to July 2014. This amounts to 1.8 percent, which is better to the median of 2.0 percent among current senators as of July 2014.[46]

Congressional staff salaries

See also: Staff salaries of United States Senators and Representatives

The website Legistorm compiles staff salary information for members of Congress. Sanders paid his congressional staff a total of $2,395,679 in 2011. He ranked 2nd on the list of the lowest paid Independent senatorial staff salaries and ranked 26th overall of the lowest paid senatorial staff salaries in 2011. Overall, Vermont ranked 45th in average salary for senatorial staff. The average U.S. Senate congressional staff was paid $2,529,141.70 in fiscal year 2011.[47]

National Journal vote ratings

See also: National Journal vote ratings

Each year National Journal publishes an analysis of how liberally or conservatively each member of Congress voted in the previous year. Click the link above for the full ratings of all members of Congress.


Sanders ranked 37th in the liberal rankings in 2013.[48]


Sanders ranked 32nd in the liberal rankings in 2012.[49]


Sanders ranked 29th in the liberal rankings in 2011.[50]


Sanders lives in Burlington, Vermont, with his wife Jane O’Meara. Sanders and his wife have four children.[6]

Recent news

This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term Bernie + Sanders + Vermont + Senate

All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.

Bernie Sanders News Feed

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See also

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1, "Members"
  2. Official Senate website, "Newsroom," accessed October 12, 2011
  3. Burlington Free Press blog, "Sen. Bernie Sanders wins Democratic endorsement for re-election," November 7, 2011
  4. Biographical Guide to Members of Congress, "Bernie Sanders," accessed October 12, 2011
  5. New Statesman, "Who's left? The top 20 US progressives," January 11, 2012
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Official Senate website, "About page," accessed October 12, 2011
  7. United States Senate, "Committee Assignments of the 114th Congress," accessed February 17, 2015
  8. Congressional Quarterly, "Senate Committee List," accessed January 22, 2013
  9. Congressional Record, "Resume of Congressional Activity, First Session of the 112th Congress," accessed September 5, 2013
  10. Congressional Record, "Resume of Congressional Activity, Second Session of the 113th Congress," accessed March 4, 2014
  11. Project Vote Smart, "PN 48 - Nomination of John Brennan to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency - Voting Record," accessed September 25, 2013
  12. Project Vote Smart, "HR 325 - To Ensure the Complete and Timely Payment of the Obligations of the United States Government Until May 19, 2013 - Voting Record," accessed September 25, 2013
  13. The Washington Post, "Reid, McConnell propose bipartisan Senate bill to end shutdown, extend borrowing," accessed October 16, 2013
  14., "H.R. 2775 As Amended," accessed October 31, 2013
  15. Project Vote Smart, "S Amdt 1197 - Requires the Completion of the Fence Along the United States-Mexico Border - Voting Record," accessed September 25, 2013
  16. Project Vote Smart, "S 47 - Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 - Voting Record," accessed September 25, 2013
  17. U.S. Senate, "Roll Call Vote on the Fiscal Cliff," accessed January 4, 2013
  18. 18.0 18.1 On The Issues, "Sanders Vote Match," accessed March 12, 2015
  19. The questions in the quiz are broken down into two sections -- social and economic. In social questions, liberals and libertarians agree in choosing the less-government answers, while conservatives and populists agree in choosing the more restrictive answers. For the economic questions, conservatives and libertarians agree in choosing the less-government answers, while liberals and populists agree in choosing the more restrictive answers.
  20. Los Angeles Times, "Social Senator schemes to fire fed chair Bernanke," accessed October 12, 2011
  21. The Hill, "Sanders: NSA spies on Congress?," accessed January 3, 2014
  22. Politico, "Pols back #FastFoodStrikes," accessed December 6, 2013
  23., "Official primary candidate list"
  24. Associated Press, "primary results"
  25. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 7, 2006," accessed March 28, 2013
  26. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 7, 2006," accessed March 28, 2013
  27. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 5, 2002," accessed March 28, 2013
  28. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 7, 2000," accessed March 28, 2013
  29. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 3, 1998," accessed March 28, 2013
  30. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 5, 1996," accessed March 28, 2013
  31. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 8, 1994," accessed March 28, 2013
  32. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 3, 1992," accessed March 28, 2013
  33. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 6, 1990," accessed March 28, 2013
  34. Open Secrets, "Donor history for Bernie Sanders," accessed April 25, 2013
  35. Open Secrets, "Sanders 2012 Election Cycle," accessed July 3, 2013
  36. Open Secrets, "Bernie Sanders 2006 Election Cycle," accessed November 26, 2011
  37. OpenSecrets, "Sanders, 2012," accessed January 14, 2014
  38. This figure represents the average annual percentage growth from either 2004 (if the member entered office in 2004 or earlier) or their first year in office (as noted in the chart below) to 2012, divided by the number of years calculated.
  39. This number was found by dividing each member's total net worth growth percentage by the number of years included in the calculation.
  40. This figure represents the total percentage growth divided by the number of years for which there are net worth figures for each member.
  41. This figure was calculated using median asset data from the Census Bureau. Please see the Congressional Net Worth data for Ballotpedia spreadsheet for more information on this calculation.
  42., "Sen. Bernie Sanders," accessed October 2, 2014
  43. OpenCongress, "Bernie Sanders," accessed August 20, 2014
  44. GovTrack, "Bernie Sanders," accessed August 20, 2014
  45. GovTrack, "Bernie Sanders," accessed July 3, 2013
  46. GovTrack, "Sanders," accessed August 20, 2014
  47. LegiStorm, "Bernie Sanders"
  48. National Journal, "Congressional Vote Ratings," August 20, 2014
  49. National Journal, "Congressional Vote Ratings," February 28, 2013
  50. National Journal, "Searchable Vote Ratings Tables: Senate," accessed February 23, 2012
Political offices
Preceded by
Jim Jeffords
U.S. Senate - Vermont
Succeeded by