His achievements include the bipartisan VA reform bill: “Frankly, without him, I don’t think we would have gotten it done.”
By Sarah Mimms
In the Senate, Bernie Sanders should be all alone.
Sanders is constantly ribbing Republicans in his trademark condescending Brooklyn-accented tone. He offers up legislation that’s so far to the left that it couldn’t get a vote even under Majority Leader Harry Reid. He’s the curmudgeon in the Senate Democratic conference, rarely satisfied with how far his leadership will go to pursue progressive policies, and not afraid to vote ‘nay’ when his leaders come up short. And none of his Senate colleagues, on either side of the aisle, think he could ever be elected president of the United States; most of them even believe he shouldn’t be.
But rather than earning the frustration and ire of his peers in the vein of other Senate hard-liners such as Sen. Ted Cruz, Sanders has managed to be respected—even liked—by much of the chamber, according to members on both sides of the aisle. The Vermont independent actually has much more in common with Sen. Tom Coburn, the now-retired “Dr. No,” whose hard-line opposition killed many bills in the Senate but also earned him the respect of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
Sanders also has been able to work well with his colleagues. He’s passed bipartisan legislation and forged strong relationships with members of both parties in nearly 25 years on Capitol Hill. But most of all, members say, even when Sanders is ideologically an outlier, he lets others know where he stands. He’s not the type to suddenly stab a colleague in the back. And that’s earned him respect both on and off the Hill.
“A lot of people here talk about what they believe in, but they don’t act on it,” Sen. Mark Warner said. “He always acts on what he believes. … We can agree or disagree, but you know where he stands.”
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, including Sanders himself, point to last year’s deal to improve the disastrous, scandal-ridden Veterans Affairs Department as a highlight. After weeks of negotiating with a cadre of Republican colleagues, Sanders helped pass the deal on a 91-3 vote in the Senate. “In a pretty dysfunctional Congress I helped pass, in a bipartisan way, the significant veterans bill, which increases health care to veterans and lowers waiting times, and I’m proud of that,” Sanders said. “That was a significant step forward.”
Read more at the National Journal