February 9, 2023
Bernie Sanders in line to chair influential Senate committee on well being, schooling and labor
Bernie Sanders in line to chair influential Senate committee on well being, schooling and labor
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a Vermont Democratic Social gathering gathering in Burlington on Election Day, Tuesday, November 8, 2022. Photograph by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is predicted to take over as chair of one of many chamber’s most influential coverage committees.

The present chair of the Senate Committee on Well being, Schooling, Labor and Pensions, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is leaving her publish to take over the highly effective Senate Committee on Appropriations — a job presently held by U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who’s retiring on the finish of his time period in January. 

Per Senate customized, Sanders’ seniority places him subsequent in line to chair what’s usually known as the HELP committee. His workplace confirmed on Thursday that he desires the job.

“As chairman of the committee, he’ll give attention to common well being care, reducing the price of pharmaceuticals, growing entry to greater schooling, and defending staff’ rights on the job,” Mike Casca, a spokesperson for Sanders, mentioned in an announcement.

Sanders has served on the HELP committee since he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2007. He presently chairs the panel’s subcommittee on main well being and retirement safety. The transfer would imply Sanders should quit his chairmanship of the Senate Price range Committee.

Not one of the sweeping reforms, together with Medicare for All, that Sanders has known as for within the well being care and pharmaceutical sectors for many years are a distant risk with the U.S. Home beneath Republican management. However the HELP helm will however give Sanders an necessary bully pulpit from which to advance his coverage agenda.

Sanders wouldn’t be the primary senator from Vermont to chair HELP. Jim Jeffords, who preceded Sanders within the higher chamber — first as a Republican and later as an unbiased — additionally chaired the influential panel, and in 1999 even gave it its present title.

U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., who will succeed Leahy within the new 12 months, could have little say in his committee assignments as a freshman senator. He informed VTDigger after the midterms he deliberate to ask management what “sensible choices” would seem like, though he expressed confidence that by forging “bipartisan relationships,” he might make his mark.

“No matter committees I am on, I’ll have a possibility to be a really productive member of the Senate on behalf of Vermont,” he mentioned.

Committee assignments possible gained’t be finalized till the Senate reconvenes in December, after its Thanksgiving break.

Sarah Mearhoff contributed reporting.

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