Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is the longest serving Independent in the history of the United States Congress. He was elected to the Senate in 2006 after representing Vermont for 16 years in the House of Representatives. Prior to joining Congress, Sanders served four terms as Mayor of Burlington, Vermont, during which time the city was recognized as one of the most livable in America. Earlier in his career, he was director of the American People’s Historical Society.
As a senator and congressman, Sanders has focused on energy and environmental policy, universal health care, fair trade policies, and America’s shrinking middle class and growing income inequality. A self-described “democratic socialist,” he favors left-leaning government policies that advocate social welfare and reflect the needs of the working class. Sanders serves on five Senate committees: Budget; Veterans; Energy; Environment; and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.
In December 2010, Sanders famously gave an eight-and-a-half hour speech on the Senate floor opposing the deal President Obama struck with the Republicans which extended the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, lowered their estate taxes, and jeopardized Social Security funding through the establishment of a “payroll tax holiday.” The speech received widespread media attention, and was later published as a book entitled The Speech.