Agreements on the $15-per hour minimum wage and health care may be enough to unite Clinton and Sanders backers
Final approval of the Democratic platform will come at the convention later this month
Bernie Sanders got what he wanted here this weekend: A Democratic platform stamped in section after section by his progressive values.
Hillary Clinton got what she wanted, too: A path to bring Sanders’ supporters fully into the fold a week before the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
After two days of marathon negotiations and deals on issues like the minimum wage, energy and health care, the party’s platform committee approved a final draft in the wee Sunday morning hours. Most notably, Clinton embraced Sanders’ call for a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage – with Sanders making the concession that it would be phased in “over time.”
And Clinton’s campaign announced her support for a “public option” – a government-run alternative to private health insurance – bringing her closer to Sanders on health care.
The result: Sanders is pleased enough with the platform, three Democratic sources said, that he has committed to a joint event with Clinton Tuesday in New Hampshire and is prepared to endorse her.
This weekend’s meeting may be the final hurdle Clinton needed to clear to consolidate Democratic support in a campaign that saw Sanders attract millions of votes with a populist platform.
Even after Clinton became the presumptive Democratic nominee, Sanders refused to drop out, maintaining his leverage – the possibility of a chaotic, contested convention – to try to force policy concessions in the platform that would allow him to leave a lasting stamp on the party and force Clinton leftward one more time, especially on health care and economic issues like the minimum wage.
“We have made enormous strides,” Sanders said in a statement Sunday. “Thanks to the millions of people across the country who got involved in the political process – many for the first time – we now have the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party.”
He added, in a nod to Clinton: “We need to elect a Democratic Congress and president and make certain that the language in the Democratic platform is translated into law.”
Clinton’s campaign, too, praised the draft platform.
“We are proud of the work that Democrats did in Orlando and for coming together to further strengthen the most progressive platform in the history of our party,” Clinton senior policy adviser Maya Harris said.
Sanders’ camp has two days from Sunday morning’s DNC Platform Committee vote to approve the draft to file “minority reports” – a mechanism that could force votes on the convention floor on the changes they wanted but didn’t get on issues like trade – particularly the Trans-Pacific Partnership – and a ban on fracking.
But his side downplayed the prospect for major clashes in Philadelphia, calling the platform a victory that reflects Sanders’ influence on the party.
“We got 80% of what we wanted in this platform,” top Sanders policy adviser Warren Gunnels told CNN.
Another top Sanders supporter, former NAACP head Ben Jealous, gave Clinton a nod in front of the platform committee’s delegates on Saturday night.
“Now let’s put in place a president that can actually deliver on this and let’s make sure that she does,” he said.
Sanders’ platform focus
As Democrats arrived in Orlando, compromise between negotiators for Clinton and Sanders seemed elusive.
They hunkered down in back rooms at the DoubleTree by Hilton outside Universal Studios, trying – and for hours, failing – to broker agreements on the minimum wage and trade.
Originally slated to begin at 3 p.m. ET Friday, the platform committee didn’t start considering amendments to the draft platform they’d arrived with until 10 p.m., with the platform committee co-chair, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, repeatedly stalling, sending delegates off to a memorial for victims of the Orlando nightclub massacre and serving them dinner.
After deals late Friday and early Saturday on health care and the minimum wage, both campaigns entered their biggest fight of the weekend: trade, an issue that helped Sanders during his insurgent run.
Sanders’ delegates wanted the platform to include a strict and explicit opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the 12-nation trade deal negotiated by President Barack Obama’s administration, ever getting a vote – even in the lame-duck session before a new president is sworn in.
But Clinton’s allies didn’t want to embarrass Obama in his own party’s platform. Instead, they crafted language laying out Democratic principles on trade – calling for all pacts to address labor rights, environmental rules, currency manipulation and more – and had AFSCME President Lee Saunders present it.
Then, Clinton’s delegates voted down Sanders’ proposals on trade – leading to boos, with some of his supporters in the portion of the ballroom that was open to the public shouting “shame” and walking out.
Another Sanders loss came on a proposal that his campaign hadn’t identified as a top priority – but his supporters in Orlando had. It would have denounced Israeli settlements, a move Clinton’s delegates argued would exacerbate tensions and harm the United States’ position as an independent arbiter of two-state solution negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.
Then, though, came a series of compromises in which Sanders extracted major concessions.
On energy, Sanders didn’t get the call for a national fracking ban that he wanted, but he did get Clinton’s camp to embrace the stance that “greenhouse gases should be priced to reflect their negative externalities, and to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy and help meet our climate goals” – which sounds similar to the carbon tax that Sanders has supported.
Debate over identifying Clinton as the nominee
The only worrying sign for a party aspiring for unity came in the wee Sunday morning hours, when the Clinton and Sanders camps had agreed to a final amendment.
It would have identified Clinton as the Democratic nominee, and credited Sanders by name for bringing young people and independents into the party and the primary process.
However, Sanders’ fans in the public gallery loudly rebelled, booing the language and insisting that Sanders keep up his campaign and contest the convention. Some were still angry that the trade and Israeli settlements language had been rejected.
“You have done yourself no favors with bringing the progressive wing of the Democratic Party to vote for you,” Anthony Rogers-Wright, a 40-year-old Seattle policy aide for an environmental non-profit, said of Clinton’s campaign.
“Smarten up and show us that we matter, and show us that the historic campaign that Bernie Sanders ran are not just words to you – that would be my message to you,” he said.
For the sake of party unity, the amendment was withdrawn.
CNN’s John King contributed to this report.