Birthdate: Sept. 8, 1941
Birth Place: Brooklyn, NY, United States
Residence: Burlington, VT
First Elected: 2006
Bernie Sanders was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago, and completed graduate courses at New York's New School for Social Research.
He moved to Vermont in 1968, where he worked as a carpenter, youth counselor, freelance writer and a filmmaker.
He was elected mayor of Burlington in 1981 and served until 1989, when he did not seek re-election.
Sanders taught political science at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and at Hamilton College. He was elected to the U.S. House in 1990 and served for eight terms.
He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006.
Sanders and his wife, Jane O'Meara-Sanders, reside in Burlington, Vt. He has one child and three stepchildren.
Bernie Sanders has honed his populist message about empowering the poor, elderly, veterans and farmers for three decades, and it has served him well.
He used his position in 2010 to lobby against the reappointment of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and President Barack Obama's administration pay czar Kenneth Feinberg.
Sanders put a hold on Bernanke's confirmation, though it was ultimately released. He blasted Feinberg for not being tough enough on Wall Street pay excess.
He also took aim on the oil industry, sponsoring a measure to repeal lucrative tax breaks enjoyed by the oil and gas industry. The move would have raised $35 billion over 10 years by limiting the ability of oil companies to write off drilling expenses, eliminating a tax deduction for the capital costs of oil and gas wells and repealing a tax deduction for domestic production of oil and gas.
In June 2012, Sanders and Rep. Elijah Cummings announced legislation to address the 'national crisis in dental care.' The bill would expand comprehensive dental coverage to millions of Americans through Medicare, Medicaid, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, increase access to dental services at community health centers and school-based and mobile clinics, and address the underlying shortage of providers.
He introduced a bill in July 2010 to set the amount of milk to be produced quarterly and penalize farmers who produce too much. The Dairy Market Stabilization Act is aimed at bringing price stability to the dairy industry.
Sanders has been a reliable foil to the right in the Senate. He voted against the $700 billion financial industry bailout in October 2008 and the appointment of Attorney General Michael Mukasey. He also pressed former President George W. Bush to halt arms sales to Saudi Arabia until it agreed to pump more petroleum.
Despite his leftist leanings, Sanders has become effective as a lawmaker, learning to work out deals with senators from both parties and even being rewarded with his first ever subcommittee chairmanship. Sanders heads the Green Jobs and New Economy Subcommittee of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
He supports abortion rights, opposes the death penalty and talks about global warming whenever he can. He also lobbies loud in support of government investment in renewable energy and against tax cuts for corporations.
He got attention in the House for being the first member of Congress to lead senior citizens on bus trips to Canada to get cheaper prescription drugs.
Sanders has continued to work on the prescription drug issue and has criticized Republicans for pushing through the Medicare bill that he said gives false hope of reducing prices.
He's also been campaigning against wholesale changes in Social Security and against the growing disparity between rich and poor in America. In the summer of 2012, he made a splash with a tweet saying the Walton family of Wal-Mart fame had amassed more wealth than the bottom 40 percent of Americans. The fact-check group PolitiFact checked out the claim and rated it true.
His legislative successes include the National Cancer Registry Act, which tracks cancer cases across the country; senior nutrition programs; and action on behalf of veterans' issues, such as a new treatment for Persian Gulf Syndrome.
Sanders made five unsuccessful bids for statewide office as a candidate of the Liberty Union Party, which is unique to Vermont. But in 1981, he decided to run for Burlington mayor as an independent and he succeeded in upsetting the incumbent Democrat by 10 votes. He went on to serve eight years as the only self-described socialist mayor in the country.
He usually runs as an independent, and at times has actively distanced himself from Democrats, as in his 2006 campaign, when he passed on the party's endorsement in his Senate run, confident his well-known name and reputation as an iconoclast would carry him to victory.
Sanders has long been a critic of both the Republican and Democratic parties, though he has become much closer to the Democrats over the years. He often affiliated with Democrats in the House for organizational purposes and committee assignments.
Source: Associated Press