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Bernie Sanders' Issue Positions (Political Courage Test)



Official Position: Candidate addressed this issue directly by taking the Political Courage Test.

Inferred Position: Candidate refused to address this issue, but Vote Smart inferred this issue based on the candidate's public record, including statements, voting record, and special interest group endorsements.

Unknown Position: Candidate refused to address this issue, or we could not infer an answer for this candidate despite exhaustive research of their public record.

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Other or Expanded Principles & Legislative Priorities are entered exactly as candidates submit them. Vote Smart does not edit for misspelled words, punctuation or grammar.

Bernie Sanders has failed to provide voters with positions on key issues covered by the 2020 Political Courage Test, despite repeated requests from Vote Smart and voters like you.

What is the Political Courage Test?

Issue Positions

For Presidential and Congressional candidates who refuse to provide voters with their positions, Vote Smart has researched their public records to determine their likely responses. These issue positions are from 2020.

  • “As president, and as someone who has a 100 percent pro-choice voting record in Congress, I will do everything that I can to protect and preserve a woman's right to an abortion.” (
  • "After all the progress we have made on women's health, we cannot go back to the days when women in America did not have the right to control their own bodies.”   (
  • “Sen. Sanders would expand, not cut, funding for Planned Parenthood, the Title X family planning program, and other initiatives that protect women's health, access to contraception, and the availability of a safe and legal abortion.” (
  • "How we fund the #GreenNewDeal: [...] Make the wealthy pay their fair share" (
  • “Senator Sanders' personal income tax reform plan would make the wealthiest 2.1 percent of households in America pay their fair share by making three types of reforms.” (
  • “Substantially increase the top marginal tax rate on income above $10 million.” (
  • "We must pass Medicare for All." (
  • "It is time to expand Social Security, not cut it," Sanders said in response to a new report by the trustees who oversee the program. "Millions of seniors, disabled veterans and people with disabilities are falling further and further behind on $10,000 or $11,000 a year Social Security," he added.” (
  • “Scrap the income cap on Social Security payroll taxes through the Social Security Expansion Act so that millionaires and billionaires pay more into the system.” (
  • "And in the first week of my administration, we will introduce Medicare for all. Medicare for all, that means no deductibles, no co-payments, no out-of-pocket expenses. That's where we've got to go." (
  • “Overturn Citizens United.” (
  • “For more than thirty years, Sen. Sanders has been a staunch advocate for effective campaign finance reform that reduces the influence of special interests and corporations. To that end, he has introduced a resolution to amend the U.S. Constitution, making it clear that the right to vote and the ability to make campaign contributions and expenditures belong only to real people, not corporations.” (
  • "We have to overturn Citizens United. We need to move toward public funding of elections." (
  • “At a time when the U.S. already spends more on the military than the next 10 countries combined, Trump is proposing an $861 billion increase in base defense spending over a 10 year period. And he proposes to pay for it by cutting over $1 trillion from education, affordable housing, nutrition assistance and the needs of working families over the next decade. Trump's proposed increase in base Pentagon spending could make every public college and university in America tuition-free over the next decade.” (
  • “Any serious discussion of how to reduce the national debt and control spending must begin with defense spending instead of talking about cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, education and many other essential programs that benefit millions and millions of children, elderly, veterans and working families that truly depend upon them.” (
  • "How we fund the #GreenNewDeal: [...] Make the wealthy pay their fair share" (
  • Signed a letter stating: "the House legislation prohibits the deployment of the W76-2 low yield nuclear warhead for the Trident D5 submarine-launched ballistic missile. This warhead is a dangerous, costly, unnecessary, and redundant addition to the U.S. nuclear arsenal." (
  • “Putting at least 13 million Americans to work by investing $1 trillion over five years towards rebuilding our crumbling roads, bridges, railways, airports, public transit systems, ports, dams, wastewater plants, and other infrastructure needs.” (
  • “While the economy has improved significantly since the worst days of the recession, our nation still faces a major jobs crisis. We need to create millions of decent paying jobs, and we need to create them now. And infrastructure spending is one of the best ways to do just that.” (
  • "You can't be an American company and not pay American taxes. We're going to repeal ALL of Trump's outrageous corporate tax breaks and close all corporate tax loopholes, including the use of offshore tax havens." (
  • “End the rule allowing American corporations to defer paying federal income taxes on profits of offshore subsidiaries.” (
  • “Senator Sanders would end these loopholes by requiring U.S. companies to pay taxes on all of their income by ending the deferral of foreign source income.” (
  • "A great nation is not judged by the size of its corporate tax breaks. It's judged by how it treats its most vulnerable people. That is why we are going to end virtually all corporate tax breaks and loopholes and invest in working Americans." (
  • “Sen. Sanders has been a vigorous opponent of the standardized testing regimen put in place by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) because it narrows school curriculum and constrains the development of critical thinking and creativity.” (
  • Rated 100% by National Education Association. (
  • “Sanders, a member of the Senate education committee, helped draft the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to replace the much-maligned No Child Left Behind education law, which inaccurately stigmatized Vermont schools for supposedly low performance.” (
  • "Not only did we work hard to stop the No Child Left Behind Act, you're looking at a guy who voted against it. #NHPolitics" (
  • “We must transform our energy system away from polluting fossil fuels and towards energy efficiency and sustainability.”  (
  • “Senator Sanders supports major investments in wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, and other sources of renewable energy. These investments are not only important to combat global warming, they are also critically important in improving the farm economy.” (
  • “Senator Sanders would substantially increase investments in wind energy and would make the Wind Production Tax Credit permanent.” (
  • "Our campaign will offset all carbon emissions produced from travel activities and events by investing in renewable energy and carbon reduction projects. As a nation, our goal must ultimately be to transition away from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy." (
  • “Expanding on his ambitious plan to combat climate change, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced the Climate Protection and Justice Act today to establish a price on carbon pollution. The legislation would cut total emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050, fund historic investments in energy efficiency and sustainable energy technologies, return billions of dollars to working families and protect the most vulnerable communities.” (
  • “Secured $3.2 billion in the economic stimulus package to fund grants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a program that has funded upgrades for more than 86,000 buildings and installed more than 9,500 solar energy systems.” (
  • “In an effort to combat the effects of climate change, Sen. Sanders introduced the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act, his first piece of legislation introduced after being sworn into the Senate. It aims to reduce greenhouse emissions by 80 percent by 2050.” (
  • "When our children are being shot in places that should be safest, we're failing. Let's get serious about gun control." (
  • “Ban the sale and distribution of assault weapons. Assault weapons are designed and sold as tools of war. There is absolutely no reason why these firearms should be sold to civilians.” (
  • “Once again, the American people believe and I believe in universal background checks.” (
  • "Sen. Feinstein's and Sen. Murphy's proposals are commonsense. In light of the terrible tragedies that have taken place in Orlando and other cities, it's not very hard to understand that terrorists or potential terrorists, criminals and the dangerously mentally ill should not have access to guns. We have got to do everything we can to stop guns from falling into the hands of people who should not have them." (
  • "The Affordable Care Act should be improved. But the answer is not to throw 23 million Americans off of health insurance." (
  • "Instead of gutting the Affordable Care Act, we need to expand on the improvements that it has made to our health care system. The time has come for the United States to join every major country on earth in guaranteeing health care as a right to every man, woman and child." (
  • "Our job is to come together and improve the Affordable Care Act, lower deductibles, lower co-payments, lower prescription drug costs. Our job is to pass a health care bill, not to throw millions of people off of their health insurance they currently have." (
  • "Today we defend the Affordable Care Act. Tomorrow we fight for a Medicare-for-all, single payer system." (
  • Signed a letter stating: “As your Committee considers fiscal year 2019 appropriations for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), we ask you to reject President Trump's FY19 funding request for a costly and ineffective border wall,” (
  • “Oppose tying immigration reform to the building of a border fence.”  (
  • "No more ripping babies from their mothers. No more Muslim ban. No more racist border wall. We are going to undo everything Trump has done to demonize immigrants and Latinos." (
  • “Sign the DREAM Act into law to offer the opportunity of permanent residency and eventual citizenship to young people who were brought to the United States as children. We must recognize the young men and women who comprise the DREAMers for who they are -- American kids who deserve the right to legally be in the country they know as home.” (
  • “But at the end of the day, Chuck, we have got to do what the American people want. And that is comprehensive immigration reform and a path towards citizenship for 11 million undocumented. We need to provide immediate legal status for the 1.8 million people in the DACA program, and a humane border policy. That is really what we have to do as a nation.” (
  • “Enact comprehensive immigration reform, including a path towards citizenship.” (
  • "Immigrant communities should not live in terror. We need a pathway to citizenship for all 11 million undocumented people, not more mass immigration raids." (
  • “The threat of North Korea's nuclear program is a very serious issue that requires serious diplomacy." (
  • “But to my mind, it is far better than the path we were on with Iran developing nuclear weapons capability and the potential for military intervention by the U.S. and Israel growing greater by the day.” (
  • “While the agreement is not perfect, it is far better than the path we were on -- with Iran developing nuclear weapons and the potential for military intervention by the U.S. and Israel growing greater by the day. If Iran does not live up to the agreement, sanctions can be reestablished and all other options remain on the table.” (
  • “Rejoin the Iran nuclear agreement and talk to Iran on a range of other issues.” (
  • “Yes. The agreement achieved by the US, Europe, Russia and China with Iran is one of the strongest anti-nuclear agreements ever negotiated. It prevented a war and blocked Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon.” (
  • "I led opposition to the War in Iraq. Joe Biden voted for it. We need to end our endless wars." (
  • "The Republican Party is going to have to end their hypocrisy with regard to deficits and the national debt. They are going to have to be honest with the American people. Wars are enormously expensive, not only in terms of human life and suffering, but in terms of the budget. If the Republicans want another war in the Middle East, they are going to have to tell the American people how much it will cost them and how it will be paid for. This is an issue that I and others intend to raise forcefully during this week's debate on the Senate floor. I strongly expect that there will be amendments demanding that Republicans tell us how they will pay for another war." (
  • "The United States Congress must do everything it can to prevent a war with Iran. And by the way, the Constitution of the United States is very clear. I am committed to ensuring that majorities of the House of Representatives and the Senate make clear that before the president takes any military action, in Iran or anywhere else, he must seek authorization from Congress. Taking us into a war without Congressional authorization would be unconstitutional and illegal." (
  • "One of the big differences between the vice president and myself is he supported the terrible war in Iraq and I helped lead the opposition against it." (
  • "As a result of bad trade agreements like NAFTA, we have lost over 4 million decent paying manufacturing jobs." (
  • "I strongly support imposing stiff penalties on countries like China, Russia, South Korea and Vietnam to prevent them from illegally dumping steel and aluminum into the U.S. and throughout the world. American steel and aluminum workers need our help, and they need it now, but not at the expense of farmers, workers, small businesses and consumers in Vermont and throughout this country. Given Vermont's proximity to Canada and our strong trade relations with Canada, these policies will be especially harmful to Vermont and other northern border states. It simply makes no sense to start a trade war with Canada, the European Union and others who are engaged in fair trade, are not cheating and where workers are paid a living wage with good benefits.” (
  • “Reversing trade policies like NAFTA, CAFTA, and PNTR with China that have driven down wages and caused the loss of millions of jobs. If corporate America wants us to buy their products they need to manufacture those products in this country, not in China or other low-wage countries.” (
  • “Rewrite our trade policies to end the race to the bottom and lift the living standards of workers in this country and our trading partners. Not only have free trade agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA hurt U.S. workers, they have been a disaster for small farmers in Mexico and Central America.” (
  • "Like NAFTA, the TPP would force U.S workers to compete with folks making pennies an hour. It's a race to the bottom." (
This candidate has responded to a Political Courage Test in a previous election. As a continued effort to provide the American public with factual information on candidates running for public office, these archived responses are made available here.
Pro-choice Do you generally support pro-choice or pro-life legislation?
I support a woman's right to choose.
Yes Do you support a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan?
No Do you support United States' combat operations in Afghanistan?
I support a timetable for quick and complete US withdrawal from Afghanistan. We went to war against Afghanistan to capture Osama bin Laden. He is now dead, and our reason for being there no longer pertains/.

Indicate which proposals you support (if any) for balancing the federal budget.In order to balance the budget,

Yes do you support reducing defense spending?
Yes do you support an income tax increase on any tax bracket?
No do you support reducing Medicaid spending?
No do you support reducing Medicare spending?
Yes Is balancing the budget a legislative priority?
We should move toward serious deficit reduction, most importantly by taxing the wealthy, who do not pay their fair share of the tax burden, and by closing tax loopholes for large corporations and corporations which ship jobs abroad to fatten their corporate profits. We should NOT blance the buget on the shoulders of the elderly, children, the poor, veterans or the currently hard-pressed middle class.
Yes Do you support the regulation of indirect campaign contributions from corporations and unions?
Citizens United, which decided that corporations are persons and have an almost unlimited capacity to contribute to political campaigns and the issues which shape political campaigns, is one of the two or three worst decisions in the history of the Supreme Court. I jhave introduced legislation which would, by constitutional amendment, reverse Citizens United.
Do you support capital punishment for certain crimes?
Yes Do you support federal spending as a means of promoting economic growth?
Yes Do you support providing tax incentives to businesses for the purpose of job creation?
Yes Do you support spending on infrastructure projects for the purpose of job creation?
Yes Do you support the temporary extension of unemployment benefits?
Do you support the 2010 temporary extension of tax relief?
[ the temporary extension of tax relief?] Candidate answered "Yes" and "No". I support the extention of tax relief for middle class and working families. I do not, emphatically, support the extension of tax breaks for those earning over $250,000 a year. I believe that federal investment in infrastructure both creates jobs, and makes our nation stronger and more economically competitive. In terms of stimulating our economy and creationg jobs -- as well as sustaining those trapped by this severe economic recession -- I think both unemployment compensation at food stamps are essential to support Americans devastated by the recession.
No Do you support requiring states to implement education reforms in order to be eligible for competitive federal grants?
I believe states, which along with communities have traditionally been the main support for our public schools, should be the entities which decide on reforms. I strongly support both early education (and child care) and extended education (after school programs, summer programs) as ways to strengthen our education of children and youth. I strongly support Pell grants, which help make college more affordable to the children of working families
No Do you support reducing restrictions on offshore energy production?
Global warming is real, and a threat to not only future generations, but to our very planet itself. I strongly support sustainable energy -- solar, wind, biomass, geothermal -- as a way to reduce carbon emissions, and to reduce our dependence of foreign oil.
Yes Do you believe that human activity is contributing to climate change?
Yes Do you support the federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions?
Global warming, and climate change, are one of the great challenges we face today. We must act aggressively to reduce carbon emissions. Solar, wind, thermal and biomass can greatly help us to move in tht direction. I ction. So can the development of hybrid-electric and electric vehicles, energy efficiency, and greater investment in mass transit.
Unknown Position Do you support restrictions on the purchase and possession of guns?
I believe that most concerns about owndership, purchase and possession of guns is best addressed at the state level. As a senator, I believe in deferring this question to the states.
Yes Do you support repealing the 2010 Affordable Care Act?
Yes Should individuals be required to purchase health insurance, as mandated in the 2010 Affordable Care Act?
The Affordable Care Act is a step forward toward universal health care, but it is imperfect, and so I voted for it but without strongly endorsing it. I have long believed that health care is a right of every citizen -- every citizen -- and that the best way to achieve a strong and fair health care system is through a Medicare-for-all, single payer system. I have consistently introduced, and strongly supported, legislation to establish a single-payer approach to health care.
No Do you support requiring illegal immigrants to return to their country of origin before they are eligible for citizenship?
Yes Do you support allowing illegal immigrants, who were brought to the United States as minors, to pursue citizenship without returning to their country of origin?
Do you support the enforcement of federal immigration law by state and local police?
Legal immigration is and should be our practice and our goal. But with 11.5 undocumented immigrants currently residing in the US, we must address that reality. I support the DREAM Act, which would confer citizenship on young people who grew up in the United States if they serve in the military or graduate from high school. The 14th amendment of the Constitution makes the federal government, not the states, the arbiter of citizenship.
Yes Do you support same-sex marriage?
No Do you support targeting suspected terrorists outside of official theaters of conflict?
No Should the U.S use military force in order to prevent Iran from possessing a nuclear weapon?
While we must aggressively pursue international terrorists and all of those who would do us harm, we must do it in a way that protects the Constitution and the civil liberties which make us proud to be Americans.
No Do you support allowing individuals to divert a portion of their Social Security taxes into personal retirement accounts?
I am opposed to the privatization of Social Security.

SpendingIndicate what federal spending levels (#1-6) you support for the following general categories. Select one number per category; you can use a number more than once.TaxesIndicate what federal tax levels (#1-6) you support for the following general categories. Select one number per category; you can use a number more than once.

Slightly Decrease a) Agriculture
Maintain Status b) Arts
Greatly Decrease c) Defense
Greatly Increase d) Education
Slightly Increase e) Environment
Maintain Status f) Homeland Security
Maintain Status g) International aid
Slightly Increase h) Medical Research
Maintain Status i) Scientific Research
Slightly Decrease j) Space exploration
Maintain Status k) United Nations
Maintain Status l) Welfare
Greatly Increase a) Capital gains taxes
Greatly Increase b) Corporate taxes
Maintain Status c) Excise taxes (alcohol)
Maintain Status d) Excise taxes (cigarettes)
Maintain Status e) Excise taxes (transportation fuel)
Slightly Decrease f) Income taxes (low-income families)
Maintain Status g) Income taxes (middle-income families)
Greatly Increase h) Income taxes (high-income families)
Greatly Increase i) Inheritance taxes
j) Payroll taxes
1 Develop sustainable energy and create green jobs 6 Eliminate corporte welfare
Payroll taxes: I favor ending the payroll tax reduction, which was instituted as a short-term measure to stimulate the economy, because over the long term it will weaken the Social Security Trust Fund. I favor removing the cap on payroll taxes for those earning over $250,000 a year, because doing so would guarantee that all Social Security benefits could be paid for the next 75 years. I believe, I stated earlier, that the wealthy and corporations need to pay their fair share of taxes.
REversing the decline of the middle class, which is in good measure due to outsourcing of American jobs and an unfair tax code which has greatly reduced taxes on the wealthy while their share of both the ntion's ealth and its income have soared dramatically, REducign glob al warming and creating new, good-paying jbos by investing in sustainable energy and eenrgy efficiency. Bringing transparency to the banking industry, to the Federal Reserve, and to military contracting.

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