San­ders has a tough time turn­ing his vi­sions into re­al­ity Suc­cess rate for leg­is­la­tion less than 1 per­cent

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY S.A. MILLER AND STEPHEN DI­NAN

Sen. Bernard San­ders’ prom­ises of a demo­cratic so­cial­ist rev­o­lu­tion have en­thralled lib­eral vot­ers this cam­paign sea­son, but the Ver­mont in­de­pen­dent’s leg­isla­tive record shows he has had a tough time turn­ing his pro­gres­sive vi­sion into re­al­ity.

Dur­ing his quar­ter-cen­tury in Congress, Mr. San­ders has been the chief spon­sor of just three bills that were signed into law: two re­nam­ing U.S. Postal Ser­vice of­fices in his home state of Ver­mont and one that in­creased the an­nual cost-of-liv­ing raise for vet­er­ans’ ben­e­fits, which he se­cured as chair­man of the Sen­ate Vet­er­ans’ Af­fairs Com­mit­tee in 2013.

It’s a record matched by most other mem­bers of Congress, who strug­gle to find leg­isla­tive niches where they can ad­vance their pri­or­i­ties. It also un­der­scores the con­cerns among many in the Demo­cratic Party es­tab­lish­ment that their cham­pion in next year’s elec­tions needs to have a record of suc­cesses in ad­di­tion to a lib­eral vi­sion.

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.

Mrs. Clin­ton has not di­rectly at­tacked Mr. San­ders’ record as a law­maker, but she has fed the im­pres­sion that he is in­ef­fec­tive.

“I’m a pro­gres­sive, but I’m a pro­gres­sive who likes to get things done,” Mrs. Clin­ton said at the in­au­gu­ral Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial de­bate this month in Las Ve­gas. The line drew ap­plause, and she started in­cor­po­rat­ing it into her stump speech.

“I think this does pose a prob­lem for him be­cause [Mrs. Clin­ton] is ar­gu­ing that she is a prag­matic pro­gres­sive who can get things done, and that would be a clear swipe at his in­abil­ity to get leg­is­la­tion passed,” said Dar­rell M. West, di­rec­tor of gov­er­nance stud­ies at the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion, a Wash­ing­ton think tank.

He said it was a fair crit­i­cism of Mr. San­ders’ leg­isla­tive record.

“It has been dif­fi­cult for him to get bills passed be­cause he is much more lib­eral than the typ­i­cal sen­a­tor,” he said. “It sug­gests that it would be dif­fi­cult for a Pres­i­dent San­ders to get leg­is­la­tion through Congress.”

The San­ders cam­paign de­clined to par­tic­i­pate in re­port­ing for this ar­ti­cle.

But Mr. San­ders has shown that he is keenly aware of be­ing la­beled an in­ef­fec­tive rad­i­cal in Wash­ing­ton.

At one re­cent cam­paign rally, he in­sisted that there is “noth­ing that I am telling you to­day that is pie-in-the-sky utopia.”

Speak­ing to NBC’s “To­day” pro­gram” last week, he said he would do a bet­ter job than Pres­i­dent Obama of break­ing con­gres­sional grid­lock and get­ting his agenda passed.

“I will do it dif­fer­ently [than Mr. Obama],” he said. “Be­cause at the end of the day, what they are re­ally up­set about is that big money con­trols what goes on in Congress. And the only way that we change that is when mil­lions of peo­ple come for­ward and de­mand the gov­ern­ment rep­re­sent all of us and not just the bil­lion­aire class.”

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