BURLINGTON, Vt. – Pressed by supporters of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, Democratic Party platform writers meeting this weekend in Orlando, Florida, adopted a progressive agenda that underscores the need for bold action on climate change, addresses criminal justice reform and calls for doubling the federal minimum wage.
“We have made enormous strides,” Sanders said. “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.”
The Platform Committee also adopted an amendment focused on criminal justice reform which calls for an investigation by the Department of Justice to investigate all shootings involving police officers.
The platform that will be submitted at the Democratic National Convention later this month in Philadelphia also would support Congress putting a price on carbon and methane to discourage continued use of fossil fuels that are causing severe climate change. The platform also says lawmakers must consider the impact on the climate in all federal decisions and invest heavily in wind and solar power rather than natural gas.
Delegates allied with Hillary Clinton’s and Sanders’ campaigns also passed amendments to fight for a $15 federal minimum wage tied to inflation, urged passage of progressive immigration reform and called for legalization of marijuana.
The changes adopted this weekend in Orlando improved platform language passed by drafters at a meeting last month in St. Louis, Missouri. The initial document already included commitments to abolish the death penalty, break up too-big-to-fail financial institutions, establish a modern Glass-Steagall Act, end corporate tax loopholes, ban private prisons and expand Social Security.
The platform improvements were in addition to announcements last week by Clinton who vowed to expand health care and make higher education more affordable.
Clinton on Saturday announced a health care program that her campaign developed in consultation with Sanders. The new plan would allow those older than 55 to participate in Medicare, clear the way for a public option for health insurance and dramatically expand community health centers which provide primary care, dental care, low-cost prescription drugs and mental health counseling.
And in a major development last Wednesday, Clinton announced a plan that would make public colleges and universities tuition free for students in families with incomes up to $125,000 a year. That would result in free tuition for 83 percent of American students.
“While we have made great progress in the Democratic platform advancing the issues that have inspired millions of Americans in this campaign, the fight is just beginning,” Sanders said.
“If we are going to transform America and create a government which works for all and not just the 1 percent we need to elect candidates who will fight for these principles. We need to elect a Democratic Congress and president and make certain that the language in the Democratic platform is translated into law. We must ensure that progress for working families in America does not end on the pages of the Democratic platform but becomes reality,” Sanders said.