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Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a rally

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks during a rally in Washington, D.C. on September 21, 2021. (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

Medicare for All Champion Bernie Sanders Eyes Key Senate Committee Chair

A spokesperson said the senator would "focus on universal healthcare, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, increasing access to higher education, and protecting workers' rights on the job."

Jessica Corbett

Among the nation's leading voices in the push for Medicare for All, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday confirmed his desire to be the next chair of the committee best positioned to make the hope of universal healthcare a reality in the United States.

"Sen. Sanders intends to seek the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions for the 118th Congress," said the Vermont Independent's communications director, Mike Casca, in a statement, confirming reporting from earlier this week.

"Sanders has served on the HELP Committee since he was elected to the U.S. Senate and currently leads the panel's Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security," Casca said. "As chairman of the committee, he will focus on universal healthcare, lowering the cost of prescription drugs, increasing access to higher education, and protecting workers' rights on the job."

The two-time Democratic presidential primary candidate has long advocated for transitioning the United States from a for-profit healthcare system to a public one that ensures everyone has the right to medical treatment. He introduced Medicare for All legislation in May.

Sanders currently chairs the Senate Budget Committee. However, Axios reported Monday, in the wake of last week's midterm elections, that he is aiming to take over for current HELP Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.). She is expected to lead the Appropriations Committee and—as her office announced Wednesday—be nominated by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) as the chamber's president pro tempore.

At the helm of the HELP Committee, Axios noted, "Sanders would have a new, larger platform to champion his progressive ideas—and potentially make Chuck Schumer's life miserable on issues like Medicare for All."

Sanders has a national reputation for not only pushing for universal healthcare but also criticizing the greed of the pharmaceutical industry.

Jim Manley—who was an aide to former HELP Committee Chair Ted Kennedy, a Massachusetts Democrat—told Axios that if Sanders serves as the panel's new leader, "I expect vigorous oversight of pharma."


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