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Bernie Sanders' Biography

  • VOA News

FILE - Bernie Sanders, shown in May 2015, is an independent senator who sought the Democratic Party's nomination for president.

FILE - Bernie Sanders, shown in May 2015, is an independent senator who sought the Democratic Party's nomination for president.

Former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is a United States senator from the northeastern state of Vermont.

An independent in the U.S. Senate, he caucuses with the Democrats. He announced his presidential candidacy on May 26, 2015, and conceded to his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, earlier this month.

Sanders is serving a second term in the Senate after capturing 71 percent of the vote in a landslide win in 2012. He previously served 16 years in the House of Representatives, becoming the longest-serving independent member of Congress in American history.

Sanders was born in 1941 in Brooklyn, New York, to Eli and Dorothy Sanders. Bernie, his parents and older brother, Larry, lived in a rent-controlled apartment.

Eli was a Jewish immigrant from Poland who lost most of his family in Europe during the Holocaust. He was a high school dropout who supported his family as a paint salesman.

Bernie Sanders attended James Madison High School in Brooklyn and later attended Brooklyn College and the University of Chicago, where he graduated in 1964.

He then moved to Vermont and served four terms as mayor of Burlington.

He lectured at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government and at Hamilton College in upstate New York.

Throughout his career, Sanders has focused on the middle class and the widening income and wealth disparities in the United States.

As chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs in 2014, Sanders passed a bill that reformed the U.S. Veterans Administration's health care system.

He currently serves on the Environment and Public Works Committee, where he has worked on combatting global warming and rebuilding the nation's roads, bridges and dams. He has worked to transform the country's energy system from fossil fuels to renewable power sources as a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Sanders also sits on the Heath, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, where he has focused on affordable health care and higher-quality education programs.

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