What Bernie Sanders Got Done in Washington: A Legislative Inventory

Bernie Sanders is a progressive who likes to get things done and his record of legislative accomplishments in the House of Representatives and the Senate shows it. Despite being independent from both the Democratic and Republican parties, he got more done in his first eight years in the Senate than Democratic Party superstar Hillary Clinton did in her eight years there. Before the people of Vermont elected him to the Senate in 2006, Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi dubbed Sanders the “amendment king” of the House of Representatives noting:

“Since the Republicans took over Congress in 1995, no other lawmaker – not Tom DeLay, not Nancy Pelosi – has passed more roll-call amendments (amendments that actually went to a vote on the floor) than Bernie Sanders. He accomplishes this on the one hand by being relentlessly active, and on the other by using his status as an Independent to form left-right coalitions.”

The following is a list of every substantive bill and amendment Sanders sponsored from the floor of Congress that became law (substantive meaning legislation renaming post offices is not included). Many of the roll-call amendments he passed with majority approval  — like limiting the federal government’s ability to spy on people’s library records — were removed from bills when the House and Senate negotiated over the final legislative text and did not become law.

Because the list is derived from Congress’ official database of floor actions, it does not include achievements like his insertion of funding for veterans health care into an Iraq war spending bill because that occurred off of the House floor while the bill was in conference. Nor does the list include what is perhaps his most significant achievement — providing health care to an additional 10 million mostly low-income Americans by getting Senate majority leader Harry Reid to add $11 billion in funding for community health centers that provide care regardless of a person’s ability to pay to the 2010 Affordable Care Act in exchange for Sanders rallying liberal Democrats who were considering voting against the bill once conservative Democrats removed the public option.

Those who mistakenly believe that a President Sanders would be powerless in the face of a hostile Republican Congress should bear in mind that he managed to pass these bills and amendments in spite of Republican control of both the House (1995-2006) and the presidency (2001-2008). Furthermore, it was Republicans in the House and Senate who compromised with him (not the other way around) on major veterans legislation in 2014. His original bill expanding services for veterans and fixing the scandal-ridden Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) cost $17.3 billion. The price tag of the final compromise bill? $16.3 billion.

SandersVAbill

Flanked by Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders and other congressional members at Wallace Theater in Fort Belvoir, Virginia, President Barack Obama signs the Veterans’ Access to Care through Choice, Accountability, and Transparency Act of 2014 into law.

Bernie Sanders is a progressive who likes to get things done because he knows how to drive a hard bargain for veterans, working families, students, the elderly, the poor, the sick, and the middle class.


102nd Congress — 1991-1992

  • Authorize grants or contracts to operate population-based, statewide cancer registries in order to collect certain data for each form of in-situ and invasive cancer except basal cell and squamous cell carcinoma of the skin. Authorizes grants for planning the registries. Mandates a study on factors contributing to elevated rates of breast cancer mortality in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and the District of Columbia. Authorizes the Secretary of Health and Human Services, directly or through grants and contracts, or both, to provide technical assistance to the States in the establishment and operation of statewide registries. H.R.4206 (Cancer Registries Amendment Act) enacted as S. 3312 (Cancer Registries Amendment Act).

103rd Congress — 1993-1994

  • None.

104th Congress — 1995-1996


105th Congress — 1997-1998


106th Congress — 1999-2000


107th Congress — 2001-2002


108th Congress — 2003-2004


109th Congress — 2005-2006

  • None.

110th Congress — 2007-2008


111th Congress — 2009-2010


112th Congress — 2011-2012

  • None.

113th Congress — 2013-2014


114th Congress — 2015-2016

  • None as of this writing (11/9/15).

72 responses to “What Bernie Sanders Got Done in Washington: A Legislative Inventory

    • Bernie and his past amendments are nice, but if you CARE about Terrorists, ISIS, Middle East conflict between Israel and all the other countries, Russia and China, or Women’s issues if you have wife and daughters, if you care about other matters then breaking up banks, and thinking you are going to make CEO’s start giving income equality to employees, you are barking up the wrong tree……Most of these things are NOT Priorities in today’s age.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I care about terrorists which is why I have a problem with HRC adding to the proliferation of weapons to 20 countries with abysmal human rights records. During her Sec. of State tenure 143% of such deals increased as compared to same time frame in Bush Admin., she received donations to Clinton Foundation before, during and after her tenure. She has 150 FBI agents now investigating her email issue and maybe more importantly the Foundation. Israel was alarmed by her activity on weapons deals and said it would make the region more unstable. She received monetary incentive to broker these deals, I don’t see how it can be looked at any other way, its called “pay as you play” criminal charges she may be facing. Will charges stick? If not it will be due to a technicality. Is it my imagination, or does the majority now seem to agree that the Iraq war grew the number of terrorists we have today exponentially. You must know how she and Sanders voted on that one. I have kids too and believe in setting the bar high. We had 100 free tuition community colleges here in CA, its not like its never been done. I’m think I’m teaching my kids about the importance of voting, not about living in fear. I’m think I’m teaching my kids about valuing integrity by voting for the more honest candidate. The two dem candidates are equal in my opinion on many Women’s issues, though many say Clinton has made some compromises that hurt low income women. Sander’s income equality platform is really the foundation for equality for all women not shaming women into a vote based on gender, some of us have moved on from that stance.

        Liked by 4 people

  1. Pingback: Repost: What Bernie Sanders Got Done in Washington: A Legislative Inventory | Mama Justice – Thoughts, Ideas, and Random Musings of a 21st Century Woman

  2. I see lots of items here regarding his support of the poor and deserving (and that is commendable), but little regarding trade, jobs, security of our nation. I like Bernie a lot, but we need more than just giving to the needy. Jobs, Jobs, Jobs!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. How can the case be made that Bernie has a good plan and likelihood, going foward, of getting things done and accomplishing his proposals? That seems to be the key issue stopping Hillary supporters from considering to support Bernie.

    The main argument from Hillary supporters seems to be that Bernie will have a much harder time getting things done and has an unrealistic plan. Hillary seems to emphasize negotiating with Republicans and taking executive action when they fail to negotiate, while Bernie emphasizes driving up public political involvement and building an ongoing grassroots movement to pressure and change Congress after the elections are over.

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      • It’s a question of who is more qualified. It’s all well and good to dream. The fact of the matter is – unless Bernie plans on coming into offiice with a magic wand, this stuff isn’t going to happen. His healthcare proposal is based on voodoo math. A 5% sustained growth rate has never happened in recent history. Remember Jeb!’s plan – based on a 4% growth rate? It was dismissed as a pipe dream. And while Gerald Friedman thinks it realistic, the majority of economists, including left-wing economists, consider it completely unrealistic. We’d also be looking at the largest increase in taxes on the middle class in US history. Americans simply won’t buy it.

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      • ^Sorry but Keynesianism works. Jeb’s plan was a joke because lining the pockets of the 1% with more tax cuts wouldn’t spur much additional investment or consumption. Giving middle America higher wages, lowering their health care costs, and eliminating/reducing enormous student debt would undoubtedly lead to greater consumption by the masses. We had growth rates like that in the post-WW2 era thanks to high wages (due to union power), the G.I. bill, and a whole range of subsidies that encouraged home ownership and the growth of the middle class. Bottom-up growth a la the 1950s that a Sanders administration would engender is the only way to get 5% growth.

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    • Yes, that sounds about right. Overall I prefer Bernie’s plan to Hillary’s, as it moves the body politic in the direction it needs to go in, if we are to preserve and expand the voter’s voice. Unfortunately, Hillary is not planning to change the system, as she believes it works (for her). We NEED a change; that is why many voted for Obama. Bernie has the advantage over Obama in that he already knows how hard it is to get bipartisan cooperation. Look again at that list!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Lora Jasan: “Unfortunately, Hillary is not planning to change the system.”

        This is the crux of what should concern every one of us — and why Bernie, as the “revolutionary” candidate is what America needs. It is good to have the evidence (THANK YOU for your superb research and analysis, PW) that Bernie works well and has succeeded within the system, but who can we most trust to at least TRY to lead Congress and the public toward legislation that changes “the game”?

        Bernie is focused on the right issues: Medicare for all (fuck healthcare “reform”!). Free (or at least heavily subsidized) higher education. (You want better government, start with a better [educated] electorate.) Public safety and welfare. (E.g., environmental protection; judicious use of our military and covert operations; curtailing our profligate military-industrial-Congressional complex; appropriately regulating corporations and Wall Street so our jobs, income, and savings are secure while not conducting class warfare or a war on capitalism; federal control and promotion of equal rights and protection — no matter what backwater state you live in). OMG, is America ready for this? We gotta at least TRY. And Bernie’s the only one leading the charge.

        Liked by 3 people

  4. I’m not sure who you are but I just want to say excellent work! One question:

    You say the list is of substantive bills and amendments Sanders sponsored from the floor of Congress that became law, and in the next sentence say, “Many of the roll-call amendments he passed with majority approval — like limiting the federal government’s ability to spy on people’s library records — were removed from bills when the House and Senate negotiated over the final legislative text and did not become law.”

    Are the roll-call amendments something different than the type of amendments in the list? I’m just a little confused about which amendments became law and which ones were removed from bills and did not become law.

    Thanks!

    Liked by 2 people

    • No, the amendments are all roll-call amendments. Sorry for the confusing terminology.

      It’s also possible for legislators to insert amendments during negotiations between the House and Senate to reconcile different versions of the same bill but finding the paper record of that (over the internet rather than in person at the Library of Congress) is impossible. I know for a fact that Sanders has gotten amendments through during the reconciliation stage to boost funding for the Vermont VA because his office writes press releases announcing these moves but Congress.gov does not at this time have accessible records on that so I couldn’t really include them here. The other thing that prevented me from cataloging those amendments is the fact that Sanders’ House.gov website was taken down after he became a Senator starting in January 2007 so those amendment press releases from 1991-2006 no longer exist on the internet, unfortunately.

      What this means is that a truly comprehensive list of his list of accomplishments is much greater than what this list was able to capture. For example, after doing some research I discovered he was one of the big proponents in Congress of getting Gulf War syndrome recognized as a legit illness which the Pentagon and VA resisted for many, many years:

      After many years of hearings and pushes by Sanders to fund studies of Gulf War veterans, Gulf War syndrome was recognized as a legit illness and vets finally started getting treatment for it. Obviously it would be wrong to give him all the credit for that since he worked with others throughout the process but he does deserve at least some of the credit.

      A VA staffer wrote a post about what it’s like to work for Sanders and he noted that much of what he does to help people is done far away from news cameras when basically nobody is really looking:

      https://www.quora.com/What-is-it-like-to-work-with-Bernie-Sanders/answer/Carter-Moore

      Like

      • Wow our government works in bizarre ways! Thank for the clarification though! You’ve done some excellent work on here. I will be referencing some of your posts whenever I need some sources to support my pro-Bernie arguments. Keep it up!

        Liked by 2 people

  5. All told, Mr. Sanders introduced 353 bills during 16 years in the House and nine years in the Senate, giving him a success rate of just less than 1 percent. By comparison, Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat who like Mr. Sanders has amassed a quarter-century in Congress, has had eight bills signed into law out of 376 introduced.

    Hillary Rodham Clinton, whom Mr. Sanders is challenging for the Democratic nomination, spent eight years in the Senate. She introduced 409 bills on which she was the lead sponsor, and three became law: renaming a post office, naming a highway and establishing a national historic site in Troy, New York, to recognize female labor leader Kate Mullany. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/oct/27/bernie-sanders-record-in-congress-shows-little-soc/?page=all

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  10. Reblogged this on 2016 US Elections and commented:
    Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi dubbed Sanders the “amendment king” of the House of Representatives noting:

    “Since the Republicans took over Congress in 1995, no other lawmaker – not Tom DeLay, not Nancy Pelosi – has passed more roll-call amendments (amendments that actually went to a vote on the floor) than Bernie Sanders. He accomplishes this on the one hand by being relentlessly active, and on the other by using his status as an Independent to form left-right coalitions.”

    The following is a list of every substantive bill and amendment Sanders sponsored from the floor of Congress that became law (substantive meaning legislation renaming post offices is not included). Many of the roll-call amendments he passed with majority approval — like limiting the federal government’s ability to spy on people’s library records — were removed from bills when the House and Senate negotiated over the final legislative text and did not become law.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Pingback: What Bernie Sanders Got Done in Washington: A Legislative Inventory | People’s War | 2016 US Elections

  12. Someone asked why with some many bills not many passed. The way I see it is Bernie Sanders bills are aimed at helping people and a lot of the times it will not beneficial to the corporations or other congress men who have those corporations in their pockets. Greed is the # 1 rule in congress and Bernie is trying to go against it

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Pingback: Development: Accomplishments: Content Collection – Learn The Bern

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  16. Wonderful article, very detailed and informative. I plan on using a lot of what you’ve said here in my own efforts to help elect Bernie to the Oval Office.

    That said, I’ve found many instances of people supporting Mrs. Clinton making excuses for things like her record of flipflopping. “Oh, she just changed her mind.” But they say that the one time I’m aware of where Bernie changed his mind due to evidence that contradicted his previous position, that is, on gun control and the NRA, those Hillary supporters say that he flipflopped.

    That would be hilarious if it wasn’t so serious. Bernie “flipflopped” but Hillary just “changed her mind. Cognitive dissonance, anyone?

    I’ve also run into people who just don’t care about the facts or the record. I know several people who say they won’t vote for Bernie because “he’s a socialist”, completely disregarding the fact that many of the agencies and programs we have here that help We the People are the very definition of socialism, that it, paid for and operated by the government for the benefit of the people.

    One guy actually said he won’t support Sanders because “he’s a communist”. When I suggested that he review the differences between democratic socialism and communism, he insisted that there are no difference.

    And to top it off, one woman actually told me that she won’t even look at the actual evidence supporting Sanders, that “he’s a liar” and “the evidence lies”.

    How do you deal with such people?

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Pingback: Why Bernie, not Hillary | LizardSpeaks

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  21. Bernie Sanders has had hundreds of sponsored bills, and co-sponsored but the link refuses to to allow it to load or advance fully. I wonder why that is? Hmmmm. Probably for the same reason that Establishment no longer allows anyone to comment on their sites now unless they pay to subscribe–at least not known Bernie Supporters.

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  22. A YUGE list of bill Bernie Sanders wrote, or co-sponsored. BUT, it would not
    allow me to go back to when he started…it kept folding. And he vote on bills and to introduce a new bill or two while Campaigning for President, also Are there too many to bring them all up? On the other hand … Hillary abstained from voting on bills 2/3 of the time she was Senator, and only co-sponsered a couple of bills.

    https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/browse?sponsor=400357

    Liked by 1 person

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  25. What about that legislation from 1993 where he suggests if Congress passes NAFTA making Americans compete with the slave wages of Mexico then congress should lead by example and reduce theuro pay to match those of Mexicos government

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