Progress on platform: Clinton, Sanders get say on key committee

The Democrats put some progressive all-stars in the lineup. With the primary contests completed, the Democratic Party is shifting its focus to the convention in late July and getting to work on a platform.

The drafting committee was announced in late May, with party leaders emphasizing presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton both had says in the makeup.

“These individuals represent some of the best progressive thinking from across the nation,” said Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She allocated 75 percent of the committee seats to the presidential campaigns, awarding the slots proportional to the popular vote tallied by late May.

The committee includes:

• Environmental activist Bill McKibben.

• Tribal rights leader Deborah Parker.

• Attorney and former U.S. Rep. Howard Berman.

• Environmentalist and former White House staffer Carol Browner.

• Ohio state Rep. Alicia Reece.

• Philanthropist and CEO Bonnie Schaefer.

• Ambassador Wendy Sherman.

• Center for American Progress president Neera Tanden.

• Activist and Democratic Socialist Cornel West.

• American Arab Institute founder and president James Zogby.

• Labor leader Paul Booth.

• U.S. Reps. Keith Ellison, Luis Gutierrez and Barbara Lee.

The policy director for Sanders’ campaign, Warren Gunnels, is a non-voting member of the committee, as is Clinton campaign senior policy adviser Maya Harris.

And U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland is the committee’s chair.

Clinton’s six appointments are Sherman, Browner, Reece, Gutierrez, Tanden and Booth.

Sanders’ five appointments are McKibben, Zogby, Ellison, Parker and West, who has called Barack Obama’s presidency a “Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency.”

A spokesperson for Clinton said the committee’s makeup ensures Sanders’ supporters will be well represented.

Sanders, in a statement issued while he was campaigning for the California primary, said, “We believe that we will have the representation … to create a Democratic platform that reflects the views of millions of our supporters who want the party to address the needs of working families in this country and not just Wall Street, the drug companies, the fossil fuel industry and other powerful special interests.”

However, Sanders unsuccessfully sought to remove Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy from the standing platform committee and former U.S. Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts from the standing rules committee because, he said, they have been outspoken critics of his campaign and are Clinton loyalists.

Also, Sanders had proposed that each campaign appoint seven members to the draft committee.

Democrats held hearings on the platform in Washington, D.C. They’ll hold additional hearings June 17–18 in Phoenix, June 24–25 in St. Louis and July 8–9 in Orlando, Florida.

Additional testimony is being submitted by party members online at

“We will be going to unprecedented lengths to ensure that the drafting of our party’s platform is the most inclusive, open and representative process in the long history of our two major parties,” said Cummings, who has worked with both Sanders and Clinton. He endorsed Clinton in May.

Meanwhile, Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus of Wisconsin announced conservative Sen. John Barrasso would chair the GOP convention platform committee. Co-chairs are Oklahoma Gov. Mary Falin and U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx of North Carolina.

“Writing the platform is a critical task and, as we enter one of the most important elections of our lifetime, our party is eager to lead an American resurgence by standing on our commitment to life, individual liberty, a strong national defense, and an economy that works for all Americans,” Priebus said in a statement.

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