Sanders will have to reorient attitude for Senate

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(Host) Vermont this morning has a new Congressman and a new Senator. Voters shifted independent Congressman Bernie Sanders to the Senate. He replaces the retiring Jim Jeffords. And replacing Sanders in the House is Democrat Peter Welch. From Capitol Hill, Chad Pergram explains what this means for the state’s Congressional Delegation.

(Pergram) The main thing is that the delegation lost seniority and experience. Three term Senator Jim Jeffords was a senior member on committees overseeing water, environmental and forestry issues. And Bernie Sanders was an advocate in the House for enhanced health care access. Now Sanders and Congressman-elect Peter Welch start at the bottom.

Middlebury College Political scientist Bert Johnson says that poses a challenge for Sanders.

(Johnson) “He’ll have to re-orient the attitude that he had when he was at the House to the attitude he had when he was Mayor of Burlington.”

(Pergram) Johnson points out that when Sanders was Mayor of Burlington, he was known for negotiating with groups that didn’t always share his views.

(Johnson) “A lot of the obstacles have to do with learning the Senate system as opposed to the House system. Sanders has a lot of experience in sort of being a lone maverick. Sanders is going to have to adjust to the Senate rules, which operate by unanimous consent which means that in order to get a lot done, you have to cooperate with other senators.”

(Pergram) Which could be critical in such a closely divided Senate.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Chad Pergram.

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