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Bernie Sanders takes gavel as chair of Senate HELP Committee


Washington — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) presided as the chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee for the first time on Feb. 9.

The executive session also marked the debut of Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) as the committee’s ranking member.

Sanders takes over for Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), who is now chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee but remains a member of the HELP Committee. Cassidy fills the seat previously occupied by former Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), who chose not to seek a fourth term in office.

“Let me begin by thanking Sen. Murray,” Sanders said in his opening remarks. “I really wanted to thank her for the excellent work she did as the previous chair of this committee. I have to thank Sen. Burr as well.

“The title of this committee is Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. Obviously, within that very broad jurisdiction, which impacts virtually every American, there’s an enormous amount of work to be done.”

The session included the adoption of committee rules and approval of the committee budget.

“This committee has jurisdiction to tackle a broad range of issues facing American families,” Cassidy said in his opening statement. “We’re not always going to agree on the course, but we have the opportunity to have a good-faith debate and meet where we do agree. There’s a long history of bipartisanship – thank you, former Chair Murray – for us to live up to.”

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