Sanders replacing top staffers with campaign aides

Former aides to Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) 2020 presidential campaign are moving into top positions in his Senate office as he begins his new role as Budget Committee chairman, according to a person familiar with the moves.

Sanders’s current chief of staff, Caryn Compton, is leaving his office and being replaced by Misty Rebik, who served as his Iowa state director and executive director of his campaign committee. 

Sanders’s legislative director, Lori Kearns, is moving into a new role on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Subcommittee on Primary Health and Retirement Security.

And Ari Rabin-Havt, who served as deputy campaign manager for Sanders’s 2020 bid, is stepping in as the senator’s new legislative director.

The staffing shakeup was first reported on Wednesday by Politico. According to that report, Sanders’s current communications director, Keane Bhatt, is also expected to step down.

In another move, Sanders is bringing in Bill Dauster, who served as a top aide to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), as chief counsel for the Budget Committee. Dauster confirmed his new role in a tweet on Wednesday night.

Dauster advocated in an op-ed published by Roll Call last week for Democrats to push through the $15 per hour minimum wage bill included in President Biden’s coronavirus relief plan should the Senate parliamentarian rule against an effort to pass the measure by a simple majority vote under the budget reconciliation process.

Sanders is moving into the top job on the Senate Budget Committee after Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) reached a power-sharing agreement on Wednesday allowing Democrats to assume control of the upper chamber’s committees. 

That agreement was approved later Wednesday by the Senate.

It puts Sanders at the helm of one of the upper chamber’s most influential committees and gives him control over the budget reconciliation process. With that power, the progressive Vermont senator will hold significant sway in Biden’s plans for taxes and government spending.

But the decision to move former top campaign aides into his Senate office also signals that Sanders’s 2020 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination may have been his last.

He had also sought the party’s nomination in 2016. And while neither bid was successful, he amassed a following of dedicated supporters with his sweeping progressive policy proposals, some of which have gained traction among mainstream Democrats.

Sanders, 79, has already acknowledged that it’s unlikely he will make a run for the White House again in 2024, telling The Washington Post last year that the odds of another presidential campaign are “very, very slim.”

Tags $15 minimum wage 2020 election Bernie Sanders Budget Committee Chuck Schumer Harry Reid Joe Biden Minimum wage Mitch McConnell Sanders campaign

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