The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Democratic platform meeting kicks off in Orlando

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders wave following the First in the South forum at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C. in November 2015. (Chris Keane/Reuters)

ORLANDO — The last debate between supporters of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton is taking place Friday in Florida, as the 187 members of the platform committee discuss what the Democratic Party stands for. Supporters of Clinton make up the majority of the committee, with 90 members; 72 are supporters of Sanders, according to a list provided to reporters by the Democratic Party. For the first time since 1988, supporters of the party's likely nominee are being asked to compromise with the runner-up.

Clinton expected to pick up Sanders’s endorsement next week in New Hampshire

The weekend began with a moment of silence for all of the week's fatal shootings, led by platform committee co-chairman and Clinton supporter Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy (D). "What happened in Dallas was un-American," he said. "It was those very police officers who sought to keep protesters safe."

Then the work began, with Malloy praising the work of the platform drafting committee, and suggesting the ways in which Democrats could ameliorate the problems revealed in the Texas, Minnesota and Louisiana shootings.

"This platform calls for ending mass incarceration, for ending the school-to-prison pipeline, for ending systemic racism," Malloy said to applause from the committee members and the non-voting guests who had packed the back of a Hilton ballroom for the day.

Still, the outnumbered supporters of Sanders, who scored numerous policy victories across three drafting committee meetings, came to Orlando with more changes in mind. Josh Fox, the director of the "Gasland" film series, is in Orlando as a Sanders delegate, and he intends to amend the platform to favor "a full national moratorium" on hydraulic fracturing (also known as fracking) instead of the current, less definitive language about energy. Ben Jealous, the former president of the NAACP, will attempt to strengthen the criminal justice language to "require the Department of Justice to investigate all police-involved shootings."

Most controversially, Sanders delegates intend to try, one more time, to put the Democratic Party on record against one of the Obama administration's final legislative priorities. Jim Hightower, the progressive author and Sanders delegate from Texas, intends to introduce language stating that "it is the policy of the Democratic Party that the Trans-Pacific Partnership must not get a vote in this Congress or in future sessions of Congress."

At the final drafting committee meeting, similar language was struck down by committee members who had not been appointed by either Clinton or Sanders. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the platform drafting committee chairman chosen by the Democratic National Convention, explicitly opposed the idea of dividing the party from the current Democratic president's policy.

Sanders's team, which includes a dozen people in Orlando, is anticipating the TPP debate to come Saturday morning. Votes on fracking and other issues may come Friday. In the run-up to this meeting, Sanders repeatedly said he would "take the fight" on key planks to the Democratic convention in Philadelphia. What's unclear is how his expected endorsement of Clinton next week would affect that.