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Rupert writes: "Democrats' platform drafting committee took a first step toward giving Bernie Sanders a major concession, voting to adopt language in support of a $15 minimum wage."

Bernie Sanders. (photo: Jewel Samad/Getty Images)
Bernie Sanders. (photo: Jewel Samad/Getty Images)

Democrats Adopt Bernie's $15 Minimum Wage in Platform Draft

By Evelyn Rupert, The Hill

26 June 16


emocrats' platform draft includes some major victories for the Bernie Sanders camp but diverges from his policies enough to give him ammo going into the convention.

The platform draft committee took a first step toward giving Sanders a major concession, voting to adopt language in support of a $15 minimum wage.

The 15-person committee, chaired by Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), finalized its draft of the guiding document Saturday in St. Louis after lengthy negotiations.

The panel also aligned itself with progressive ideas such as abolishing the death penalty and expanding Social Security, the Associated Press reported. The minimum wage language adopted echoes a common refrain by Sanders, calling the current federal minimum of $7.25 a "starvation wage."

An amendment from Sanders backer Rep. Keith Ellison (Minn.) to strengthen the language supporting $15 as a universally mandated minimum and index it to grow with inflation was shot down, however.

The platform also tackles financial reform by calling for "an updated and modernized version of Glass-Steagall."

But the panel did block several proposals favored by Sanders and his supporters. It refused to adopt a proposed amendment by Ellison that would have opposed President Obama's Trans-Pacific Partnership; both Sanders and Hillary Clinton have spoken against the trade deal. Instead the panel backed a measure that acknowledged "a diversity of views in the party" on the TPP.

It also rejected amendments putting a national freeze on fracking, imposing a carbon tax, and promoting a single-payer healthcare system.

On the thorny issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the panel agreed to advocate for a "two-state solution" that guarantees Israel's security and borders "and provides the Palestinians with independence, sovereignty, and dignity." But an amendment by Sanders ally James Zogby calling for an end to Israel's "occupation and illegal settlements" and urging an international effort to rebuild Gaza was voted down.

In a statement, spokesman Michael Briggs applauded the inclusion of death penalty abolition and financial reform but said Sanders is "disappointed and dismayed" over the panel's decision not to oppose the TPP.

"The drafting committee rebuffed a proposal by Sanders allies to put the party on record saying Congress this year should not take up a trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership," Briggs said in a Friday statement. "Both Clinton and Sanders oppose bringing the measure before Congress this year for an up-or-down vote. Clinton allies nevertheless thwarted the platform proposal."

Sanders has refused to suspend his campaign and endorse Clinton despite the fact that she has clinched the nomination. He has turned his focus to instilling progressive ideas into the party's platform — the draft could factor into Sanders's potential support of Clinton.

"Right now, to be very frank with you, we are talking to the Clinton campaign to try to determine whether or not they can come up with some very serious proposals which will help us transform America," Sanders said to supporters at a rally in Albany, N.Y., Friday. "Whether it will happen or not — that's a good question. I don't know. We are working with them right now."

In a statement Saturday, the Clinton campaign applauded the draft platform, calling it "the most ambitious and progressive platform our party has ever seen."

Clinton policy adviser Maya Harris praised the inclusion of dedication to renewable energy, criminal justice reform, infrastructure investments and support for repealing the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits certain federal funds from being used to cover abortions except in special cases.

She also lauded the minimum wage position; Clinton has proposed raising the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour but has expressed support for movements calling for $15 in places like New York and Los Angeles.

The Clinton camp took a more positive approach to the TPP stance, focusing on the amendment that recognizes differing opinions and saying that the draft "sets forward progressive principles and high standards on trade, including calling for trade agreements to be more protective of workers’ rights, labor rights, the environment, and public health."

The contrast between the two campaigns’ reactions is evidence of lingering tensions between them and Sanders’s aggravation with the DNC.

While Clinton’s campaign said “Make no mistake about it: The 2016 Democratic platform represents an ambitious, progressive agenda that all Democrats can and should be proud of,” Sanders made it clear the draft will do little to slow his push to cement his policies in party doctrine and cast trade policy as a sticking point.

“If our pro-worker amendments do not carry in St. Louis we will reintroduce them before the full platform committee in Orlando, Florida. If we do not win in Orlando we can carry them to the floor of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia,” Briggs’s statement read. “Our job is to pass the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party." your social media marketing partner
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