Democrats begin working on draft of party platform

Allies of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders pored over a 15,000-word draft of the Democratic Party's platform on Friday in a tedious process that exposed some of the party's dividing lines.

Members of a Democratic National Convention drafting committee began discussing the document at a St. Louis hotel, reviewing the language which will be debated and revised before the party's July convention. The draft platform includes a dozen themes, including sections dealing with the economy, climate change, education, health care, national security and other issues.

Clinton has secured enough delegates to receive the Democratic nomination, but Sanders, her primary rival, has said he hopes to influence the platform to reflect the views of his supporters, who are generally more liberal than Clinton's. The platform is a statement of the party's values and positions on a wide range of issues. While it does not bind the Democratic nominee to stances, it serves as a guidepost for the party moving forward.

Some of the early deliberations on Friday involved how the party should advocate for a $15 an hour minimum wage. Reflecting Sanders' influence, the document identifies the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour as a "starvation wage" that "must be increased to a living wage," phrases that Sanders often uses in his speeches. It says that the party believes Americans should earn at least $15 an hour and be able to join a union.

Sanders' allies wanted the draft to specify that the $15 minimum wage should be indexed with inflation. But Clinton's side struck down the amendment, noting that the document already included a call to "raise and index the minimum wage."

The panel also debated language suggested by Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., a Sanders' supporter, that would urge the next president to adopt a model executive order related to wages provided by government contractors.

A Clinton ally, Paul Booth, suggested an alternative that would take into account the complexities of labor law, prompting Ellison to question the "spirit of cooperation." Ellison added: "This process is going to be hard if we go 6-to-8 every time," he said, referring to the breakdown of Sanders and Clinton supporters on the panel.

The panel's chairman, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, asked both sides to work together, calling the platform "an aspirational document that speaks to what the Democratic party stands for."

The meeting at times got bogged down by what Cummings called "mechanical problems," as members complained they didn't have printouts of the language they were voting on. They were reviewing the draft over two days in a public meeting.

Sanders said Friday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that he would vote for Clinton. But he has not yet endorsed her or encouraged his supporters to back her campaign. The Vermont senator has said he wants the platform to include many of his positions on income inequality, education and health care.

"We got 13 million votes, we got in virtually every primary and caucus the vast majority of young people - people 45 years of age or younger - and what those voters are saying to the establishment, to Secretary Clinton, `Hey are you going stand up for us?"' Sanders said in an interview Friday with "CBS This Morning."

The drafting committee will discuss changes to the document ahead of a meeting of the convention's full Platform Committee in Orlando, Florida, next month.

The drafting committee said it had received testimony from 114 people and organizations during two recent public hearings and more than 1,000 Democrats submitted written or video testimony.