When Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders ran for president in 2015-2016, he was a nobody. An unknown. A grumpy, wild-haired old man talk about radical ideas like raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, expanding Social Security, creating Medicare for All to make sure everyone in this country has health care no matter their employment status or income, getting big money out of politics, and having an even-handed approach to the Israel-Palestine issue. He wasn’t even formally a member of the Democratic Party but an independent, an outsider, seeking the presidential nomination of one of the two parties he spent decades spurning.

Four years later and the Democratic Party has largely embraced most of what Sanders espoused in 2016 even though he lost the presidential primary to Hillary Clinton by a little over 3.5 million votes. He lost the race but won a lot of the arguments.

Unlike almost every other politician on the American political landscape, Bernie Sanders is a pragmatic visionary who isn’t afraid to talk about big, bold ideas and at the same time fight like hell for the smallest of gains for working and middle-class people. Despite being an outsider to both the Democratic and Republican parties that control both houses of Congress, the socialist Senator was so effective at creating bipartisan coalitions of Democrats and Republicans that Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi dubbed him 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 the historic vote invoking the War Powers Act to stop the U.S. from aiding Saudi Arabia’s murderous bombing campaign in Yemen (defeated only by President Trump’s veto). It does not include 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. It does not include his tireless and largely forgotten advocacy for veterans who became ill after fighting in the first Gulf War which impressed Texas Instruments billionaire gadfly Ross Perot so much that he awarded Sanders a sword, Excalibur:

This list also 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, Sanders agreed to rally liberal Democrats who considered voting against the bill once conservative Democrats killed 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.

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.

“VFW’s 2015 Congressional Award, which since 1964 has been presented annually to one sitting member of the House or Senate for significant legislative contributions on behalf of those who have worn the uniform.” (Source.)

102nd Congress — 1991-1992

  • Expands the boundaries of the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont to include the Taconic Mountain Range. H.R.1353 (Taconic Mountains Protection Act of 1991) enacted as S.483 (Taconic Mountains Protection Act of 1991)
  • 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

115th Congress — 2017-2018

116th Congress — 2018-2019

  • None.