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 This page is no longer being updated.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


Sanders says he wants an infrastructure package with a larger price tag
Updated 11:40 AM ET, Sun Jun 20, 2021
Sen. Bernie Sanders on Sunday said it's urgent that Democrats work toward an infrastructure package with a larger price tag that addresses climate change and other related issues. "I sometimes think we get boggled down in numbers and that's important, but we've got to look at what the needs are of the American people, what's going on right now," Sanders, a Vermont independent senator who caucuses with the Democrats and chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, told CNN's Dana Bash on "State of the Union." The comments from Sanders come as Democrats eye a bipartisan track and budget reconciliation track in negotiations over President Joe Biden's bipartisan infrastructure proposal. Asked if he had Biden's blessing to push a separate $6 trillion reconciliation plan, Sanders said the President provided a "serious and comprehensive blueprint." Some moderate Democrats, including Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, are squeamish about the large price tag of Sanders' plan and some have indicated they would not support it. CNN previously reported that aides familiar with the plans say that even if Democrats and Republicans are able to come together on a modest, bipartisan infrastructure package, there still would likely need to be a path for reconciliation in order for Democrats to pass more sweeping reforms and tax changes that are a centerpiece of Biden's legislative agenda. Asked if he was willing to scale back the price tag, Sanders told Bash he would meet with Democratic members to discuss their concerns. "Are there differences about this proposal, that proposal, the amount of money? Yeah, there are. And that's something we're going to have to work together to hammer out. I intend to do that," he said. A bipartisan group of 58 moderate House members proposed a $1.25 trillion infrastructure package earlier this month. The bill proposes $761.8 billion in new infrastructure spending over eight years, but Republicans and Democrats in both the House and Senate are negotiating over how to pay for the new spending. Democrat Rep. Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey and Republican Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, co-chairs of the Problem Solvers Caucus, in a joint interview on Sunday expressed optimism for the bipartisan infrastructure proposal while also acknowledging some members of Congress won't support the package. "This is about physical infrastructure and something that's urgent that needs to get done and we've got bipartisan support for it. ... I believe we can get this done," Gottheimer told Bash. "You're always going to have some that disagree, but this is what this is about, just continuing to work at it." Fitzpatrick told Bash the negotiators should consider all possibilities to pay for the bill, including an increase to the gas tax -- something the White House has refused to support. "Should everything be on the table? Of course it should be, because that's part of compromise," Fitzpatrick said. "Nobody will be totally in love with the plan but everybody will be okay with it." Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina separately on Sunday implored Biden to take leadership on the infrastructure package. "I think the difference between this negotiation and the earlier negotiation is we're willing to add more money to infrastructure in this package, and I am hopeful that if the White House and Joe Biden stay involved we can get there," Graham told "Fox News Sunday." "I would just say this. President Biden if you want an infrastructure bill of a trillion dollars, it is there for the taking. You just need to get involved and lead." This story has been updated with additional details.


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


Ex-Oregon GOP state lawmaker banned from state Capitol after pleading guilty to misconduct charge
Updated 10:34 PM ET, Tue Jul 27, 2021
Former Oregon GOP state Rep. Mike Nearman has been banned from the state Capitol and its grounds after pleading guilty Tuesday to official misconduct in the first degree, a charge that stemmed from an incident in December in which he helped protesters enter the closed building. Nearman was sentenced to serve 18 months of probation and to perform 80 hours of community service, according to a release from the Marion County district attorney's office. He was also ordered to pay $2,700 in restitution for damage caused to the building, in addition to the ban. CNN has reached out to Nearman's attorney for comment. Nearman had been charged with misconduct and second-degree criminal trespass, according to court records, in connection with help he gave to protesters opposed to the state's Covid-19 restrictions. In early June, newly surfaced video showed him appearing to give protesters insights into how to access the state Capitol, which led to a scuffle between protesters and police in December 2020. In the 78-minute video reported by Oregon Public Broadcasting, Nearman is seen speaking to an unidentified audience about steps to take to set up "Operation Hall Pass." The clip, which is posted on YouTube, says it was streamed on December 16, 2020. At the beginning of the video, Nearman tells the people in attendance that this will allow them to "develop some kinds of tools as far as knowing what the legislature is doing and how to participate in what the legislature is doing." It is unclear whether he is aware he's being recorded. Later in the video, Nearman and the audience were discussing people not being able to access the Capitol because of Covid-19 restrictions. He then begins to detail how to possibly get access to the building and whom to call. Surveillance video at the state Capitol allegedly shows Nearman leaving the building on December 21 through a locked door that was surrounded by anti-restriction protesters, which allowed the protesters to enter. Protesters were not able to enter the main chamber, but there was a physical confrontation with officers during which, Oregon State Police said, "a protester sprayed some kind of chemical irritant." Nearman was expelled by the state's House of Representatives in June, after every Republican in the chamber said in a letter that they "strongly recommend" he resign from his position in the legislature. "Given the newest evidence that has come to light regarding the events of December 21, 2020, it is our belief as friends and colleagues that it is in the best interests of your caucus, your family, yourself, and the state of Oregon for you to step down from office," the letter said at the time. Early this year, in a statement reported by The Oregonian, Nearman said he was subjected to "mob justice," does not condone violence and that the Capitol is constitutionally required to remain open to the public.