“As Democrats, we believe that our country’s greatest strength is its people, and we’re committed to the values of inclusion and opportunity for all. Our candidates ran strong campaigns that addressed the priorities of the American people, and I am proud to say that the drafting process has reflected our commitment as a party to elevating their voices. I want to thank Chairman Cummings for his measured and principled leadership as well as the committee members and staff who have spent long nights, several weekends and hundreds of hours on a platform draft that advances our party’s progressive ideals and is worthy of our great country.” DNC CHAIRWOMAN DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ.
“The unprecedented decision to expand the drafting process of our National Party platform is reflective of our commitment to addressing the needs of all Americans. From the very beginning of this process I have said that finding common ground is not enough, together we must reach higher ground. We must fight for good paying jobs, reforming our criminal justice system and gun safety. The draft platform we have produced in an open and transparent manner reflects our priorities as Democrats and demonstrates our vision for this nation.” PLATFORM DRAFTING COMMITTEE CHAIR REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD).
This draft will now go to the full Platform Committee for final approval at a meeting in Orlando, Florida on July 8th and 9th. The document approved by the full Platform Committee, consisting of 187 members from across the country, will be presented for ratification at the Democratic National Convention in July.Highlights of key progressive policies discussed and adopted in the final draft which will now go to the full drafting committee: Ambitious and Progressive Jobs Plan: This year’s platform contains the most ambitious jobs plan on record, including historic investments in infrastructure, a strong commitment to small business, a robust technology and innovation agenda, and promises to increase American manufacturing and stop companies from shipping jobs overseas. This platform also includes a robust stand-alone plank on youth jobs, and Democrats’ view that our economic revitalization efforts should have a focus on communities that are being left out and left behind.
Increasing the Minimum Wage: Acknowledging that the current minimum wage is a starvation wage, the platform draft already included language declaring that Americans should earn at least $15 an hour, that the minimum wage should be raised and indexed, and that all workers have the right to form and join a union. It also includes a call to end sub-minimum wage for tipped workers and people with disabilities.
Support for Public Education: The draft platform demands strong public schools in every zip code. The Committee approved language that reaffirmed Democrats’ commitment to supporting teachers, schools and communities and providing them with the resources they need to raise achievement for all students.
Abolishing the Death Penalty: Recognizing the death penalty as a cruel and unusual form of punishment, the Drafting Committee unanimously adopted an amendment to abolish the death penalty. This is the first time in the Democratic Party’s history it has done so.
Trade: The draft strengthens the language on trade by pointing out that trade deals should not boost corporate profits while failing to protect worker’s rights, labor standards, the environment and public health. Existing deals must be continuously re-examined and enforcement of those existing agreements must be tougher. A higher standard must be applied to any future trade agreements.
Looking out for Working People/The Earned Income Tax Credit: The Platform Committee unanimously agreed on an amendment proposed by Congressman Keith Ellison to expanding the EITC to low wage workers who don’t have children and to workers age 21 and older.
Wall Street Reform: The Democratic Platform will make clear that Wall Street cannot be an island unto itself, gambling trillions in risky financial instruments and making huge profits, all the while thinking that taxpayers will be there to bail them out again. The draft calls for defending and expanding Dodd-Frank. The Clinton and Sanders teams brought forward an amendment for an updated and modernized version of Glass-Steagall and breaking up too big to fail financial institutions that pose a systemic risk to the stability of our economy, which the Committee unanimously adopted.
Multi-Millionaire Surtax: Committee members Ellison and Tanden worked together on an amendment calling for a multi-millionaire surtax that was unanimously adopted by the Committee. The Committee also approved language already in the draft that provided additional ways to ensure millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share, including shutting down the “private tax system” for the most fortunate, immediately closing egregious loopholes, restoring fair taxation on multi-million dollar estates, and ensuring millionaires can no longer pay a lower rate than their secretaries.
Expand Social Security: The Democratic Platform makes clear that not only will Democrats fight every effort to cut, privatize, or weaken Social Security, but we will in fact expand it while requiring those at the top to pay more. And pursuant to an amendment crafted by members McKibben and Tanden, the Committee added language that said we would we would achieve this goal by taxing some of the income of people above $250,000.
Immigration: In addition to re-affirming our commitment to fighting for comprehensive immigration reform, the current draft platform goes significantly further than 2012 to include keeping families together, ending family detention, closing private detention centers, and guaranteeing legal counsel for all unaccompanied minors in immigration proceedings. The Platform Committee also unanimously included language proposed by members of the Sanders and Clinton teams to re-frame the conversation on immigration saying, “Immigration is not a problem to be solved, it is a defining aspect of the American character and history to be supported and defended against those who would exclude or eliminate legal immigration avenues and denigrate immigrants”
Universal Healthcare: The Platform Committee also adopted language strongly re-affirming the Democratic Party’s long held stance that health care is a right. The passage of the Affordable Care Act was a critical and hard-fought step to achieving this goal. The platform protects and builds on this progress by including access to public coverage through Medicare or a public option. The Platform Committee also agreed to take forceful action to curb prescription drug costs, including letting Medicare negotiate prices, and to expand community health centers, which offer comprehensive primary care and mental health services to underserved populations.
Honoring Indigenous Tribal Nations: The Platform Committee unanimously adopted the most comprehensive language ever in the party’s platform recognizing our moral and legal responsibility to honor the sovereignty of and relationship to Indigenous tribes— and acknowledge previous failures to live up to that responsibility.
Climate Change and Clean Energy: Moving beyond the “all of the above” energy approach in the 2012 platform, the 2016 platform draft re-frames the urgency of climate change as a central challenge of our time, already impacting American communities and calling for generating 50 percent clean electricity within the next ten years. The Committee unanimously adopted a joint proposal from Sanders and Clinton representatives to commit to making America run entirely on clean energy by mid-century, and supporting the ambitious goals put forward by President Obama and the Paris climate agreement. Another joint proposal calling on the Department of Justice to investigate alleged corporate fraud on the part of fossil fuel companies who have reportedly misled shareholders and the public on the scientific reality of climate change was also adopted by unanimous consent.
Reproductive Rights: The platform goes further than previous Democratic platforms on women’s reproductive rights. It champions Planned Parenthood health centers and commits to push back on all Republican efforts to defund it. The platform also vows to oppose, and seek to overturn, all federal and state laws that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment. It also strongly supports the repeal of harmful restrictions that obstruct women’s access to healthcare around the world, including the Global Gag Rule and the Helms Amendment, which bars US assistance to other countries that provide safe, legal, abortion.
Criminal Justice Reform: The current draft calls for ending the era of mass incarceration, shutting down private prisons, ending racial profiling, reforming the grand jury process, investing in re-entry programs, banning the box to help give people a second chance and prioritizing treatment over incarceration for individuals suffering addiction. The Committee also voted unanimously to recognize the role activists and recent movements have played in putting these issues front and center in the national conversation, as they should be.
Marijuana: Committee members McKibben and Browner worked on an amendment supporting states that choose to decriminalize marijuana. The amendment also recognized that marijuana laws have had an unacceptable disparate impact, with arrest rates for marijuana possession among African Americans far outstripping arrest rates among whites, despite similar usage rates. The Committee passed the amendment unanimously.
More than 30 pages in length, the final draft that was adopted by the Platform Drafting Committee includes a range of issues previously agreed upon by members of the Platform Committee and were therefore not part of the mark-up discussion. Issues already included in the draft and not discussed include: ending the era of mass incarceration, strengthening unions, support for the Equal Rights Amendment, prohibiting Pay for delay which keeps generic prescription drugs out of the market, drug reimportation and Medicare negotiation, expanding treatment and de-criminalizing drug and alcohol addiction, universal voter registration at age 18, support for programs to improve community – police relations, reproductive justice, gun violence prevention, ending systemic racism, non-discrimination for all LGBT Americans, cracking down on for-profit schools who engage in deceptive marketing, fraud and other illegal practices, opposition to any effort to privatize the VA; continue work to reduce the number of nuclear weapons, opposing drilling in the Arctic ocean or the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, repudiating the use of torture, closing Guantanamo Bay, increasing the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and advancing principled leadership to ensure that war is always the last resort, to name just a few.
The Platform Drafting Committee includes appointments by the Clinton and Sanders campaigns, and was announced on May 23, 2016 by Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Florida). In addition to Rep. Cummings, members are:
- Hon. Howard Berman, former Member of Congress (D-California)
- Paul Booth, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
- Carol Browner, former EPA Administrator
- U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota)
- U.S. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-Illinois)
- U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-California)
- Bill McKibben, Author and Environmentalist
- Deborah Parker, former Chairman, Tulalip Tribe (Washington State)
- State Rep. Alicia Reece (D-Ohio)
- Bonnie Schaefer, Business Owner
- Ambassador Wendy Sherman, Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs, Harvard
- Neera Tanden, Center for American Progress
- Dr. Cornel West, Union Theological Seminary
- James Zogby, Arab-American Institute.
- In addition, the Clinton campaign’s Senior Policy Advisor Maya Harris and the Sanders campaign’s Policy Director Warren Gunnels represent their respective campaigns as official, non-voting members of the Platform Drafting Committee.