Bernie Sanders

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Bernie Sanders
Bernie Sanders.jpg
U.S. Senate, Vermont
In office
Term ends
January 3, 2019
Years in position 7
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
BirthdaySeptember 8, 1941
Place of birthBrooklyn, NY
Net worth$460,506
Office website
Campaign website
Bernard "Bernie" Sanders (b. September 8, 1941, in Brooklyn, New York) 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[1] and ran as an Independent, he is a member of the Senate Democratic Caucus.[2]

Sanders won re-election in 2012.[3] Primary elections were held on August 28, 2012.

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 serve 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 of the list include Paul Krugman, Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky and Rachel Maddow.[5]


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

  • Mayor of Burlington, Vermont, 1981-1989
  • U.S. House of Representatives, 1991-2007

Committee assignments

U.S. Senate


Sanders serves on the following Senate committees[7]:


Sanders served on the following Senate committees[6]:


Legislative actions

113th Congress


The 113th Congress has had 55 out of 5,401 introduced bills enacted into law (1 percent) as of November 30, 2013. Comparatively, the 112th Congress had 1.14 percent of introduced bills enacted into law in the first session.[8] The Senate has confirmed 16,878 out of 19,009 executive nominations received thus far (88.8 percent). For more information pertaining to Sanders's voting record in the 113th Congress, please see the below sections.[9]

National security


Sanders wrote a letter in January 2014 to the director of the NSA. 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 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."[10]

John Brennan CIA nomination

Voted "No" 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

Voted "Yes" 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

Voted "Yes" 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]


Mexico-U.S. border

Voted "No" 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)

Voted "Yes" 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]

Fast food worker strikes

In December 2013, Sanders tweeted his support for raising minimum wage for fast food workers. He tweeted, "Starvation wages for fast food workers," with a link to a speech he gave on the Senate floor on the topic.[17]

Previous congressional sessions

Fiscal Cliff

Voted "Yes" 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 a 89 - 8 vote on January 1, 2013.[18]

Political positions

Sanders is a self-described democratic socialist.[19][20]



Presidential rumblings

Sanders commented in The Nation in March 2014 that he was “prepared to run for President” in 2016.[21][22]

“This country today faces more serious problems than in any time since the Great Depression. If you throw in the huge issue of climate change and the survival of the planet, you could argue that this is one of the most pivotal moments in the history of our country. What we need in a presidential campaign and what we need in politics in general is a serious debate about the serious issues facing America and the world. And I do not believe for one moment that I’m the only person who can raise the issues, but I think these are issues that have to be raised and if other people are not prepared to talk about the most important issues, I’m certainly prepared to do that,” Sanders said in an interview with Vermont Public Radio.[21]


When asked about Hillary Clinton in an August 2014 interview with Yahoo News Sanders said, "I’m not quite sure that the political process is one in which we anoint people.”[23]

Sanders also told Yahoo News that he does "not wake up every morning with a burning desire to be president of the United States. And I think anybody who does should be immediately suspected as probably totally crazy.”[23]


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 is also running as an Independent. He faces 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.[24][25]

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

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.[35]

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


Breakdown of the source of Sanders's campaign funds before the 2012 election.

Bonner won re-election to the U.S. House in 2012. During that election cycle, Sanders's campaign committee raised a total of $7,229,492 and spent $3,247,555.[36]

Cost per vote

Sanders spent $15.62 per vote received in 2012.


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

Sanders won election to the U.S. Senate in 2006. During that election cycle, Sanders's campaign committee raised a total of $5,554,466 and spent $6,596,060.[37]

Personal Gain Index

Congressional Personal Gain Index graphic.png

The aim of the Personal Gain Index (PGI) is to shine a light on how members of the U.S. Congress may benefit from their tenure as public servants. Researchers at the Government Accountability Institute will look at four different metrics pointing to aspects of self-enrichment.
The PGI will consist of the following metrics:

  • Net worth
    • How much did a member's net worth increase or decrease over a specified period?
  • The K-Street metric (coming soon)
    • What percentage of a member's staff were previously lobbyists?
  • Donation concentration (coming soon)
    • What industries are contributing the most to each member?
  • Stock trading (coming soon)
    • What stocks are each member holding in their portfolio?

PGI: Net worth

See also: 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.[38] Between 2004 and 2012, Sanders' net worth increased by 228 percent. Between 2004 and 2012, the average increase in the net worth of a congressman was 72.6 percent.

Bernie Sanders Yearly Net Worth
YearAverage Net Worth
Growth from 2004 to 2012:228%
Average annual growth:29%[39]
Comparatively, the American citizen experienced a median yearly decline in net worth of -0.94%.[40]
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.


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. The results include a member from each party.[41]

Sanders most often votes with:

Ideology and leadership

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

Based on an analysis of bill sponsorship by GovTrack, Sanders is a "left leaning independent," as of July 3, 2013.[42]

Lifetime voting record

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

According to the website GovTrack, Sanders missed 32 of 1,933 roll call votes from January 2007 to April 2013. This amounts to 1.7%, which is equal to the median of 1.7% among current senators as of April 2013.[43]

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 ranks 2nd on the list of the lowest paid Independent senatorial staff salaries and ranks 26th overall of the lowest paid senatorial staff salaries in 2011. Overall, Vermont ranks 45th in average salary for senatorial staff. The average U.S. Senate congressional staff was paid $2,529,141.70 in fiscal year 2011.[44]

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. Sanders ranked 32nd in the liberal rankings in 2012.[45]


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. Sanders ranked 29th in the liberal rankings.[46]


Sanders lives in Burlington, Vermont, with his wife Jane O’Meara Sanders and his 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. 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. Congressional Quarterly, "Senate Committee List" accessed January 22, 2013
  8. Congressional Record, "Resume of Congressional Activity, First Session of the 112th Congress," accessed September 5, 2013
  9. Congressional Record, "Resume of Congressional Activity, Second Session of the 113th Congress," accessed March 4, 2014
  10. The Hill, "Sanders: NSA spies on Congress?," accessed January 3, 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. Politico, "Pols back #FastFoodStrikes," accessed December 6, 2013
  18. U.S. Senate, "Roll Call Vote on the Fiscal Cliff" accessed January 4, 2013
  19. Los Angeles Times, "Social Senator schemes to fire fed chair Bernanke," accessed October 12, 2011
  20. Official Senate website, "Newsroom," accessed October 12, 2011
  21. 21.0 21.1 Vermont Public Radio, "Senator Bernie Sanders Is 'Prepared' To Run For President," accessed March 10, 2014
  22. The Nation, "Bernie Sanders: ‘I Am Prepared to Run for President of the United States’," accessed March 10, 2014
  23. 23.0 23.1 Politico, "Bernie Sanders: Don’t ‘anoint’ Clinton yet," accessed August 20, 2014
  24. Official primary candidate list
  25. Associated Press primary results
  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 7, 2006," accessed March 28, 2013
  28. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 5, 2002," accessed March 28, 2013
  29. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 7, 2000," accessed March 28, 2013
  30. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 3, 1998," accessed March 28, 2013
  31. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 5, 1996," accessed March 28, 2013
  32. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 8, 1994," accessed March 28, 2013
  33. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 3, 1992," accessed March 28, 2013
  34. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 6, 1990," accessed March 28, 2013
  35. Open Secrets, "Donor history for Bernie Sanders" accessed April 25, 2013
  36. Open Secrets, "Sanders 2012 Election Cycle," accessed July 3, 2013
  37. Open Secrets, "Bernie Sanders 2006 Election Cycle," accessed November 26, 2011
  38. OpenSecrets, "Sanders, 2012," accessed January 14, 2014
  39. This figure represents the total percentage growth divided by the number of years for which there are net worth figures for each member.
  40. 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.
  41. OpenCongress, "Bernie Sanders," accessed August 8, 2013
  42. GovTrack, "Bernie Sanders," accessed July 3, 2013
  43. GovTrack, "Sanders," accessed April 11, 2013
  44. LegiStorm, "Bernie Sanders"
  45. National Journal, "2012 Congressional Vote Ratings," February 28, 2013
  46. National Journal, "Searchable Vote Ratings Tables: Senate," accessed February 23, 2012
Political offices
Preceded by
Jim Jeffords
U.S. Senate - Vermont
Succeeded by