Democratic Platform Urges New Jobs Program

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By Chris Opfer

July 5 — The Democratic National Committee unveiled an ambitious federal jobs program proposal as part of its draft platform.

The platform released July 1 envisions expansive infrastructure spending that the DNC said would put “millions of Americans back to work in decent paying jobs.” That includes projects to rebuild roads, bridges, railways, airports and public transit systems.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle often point to infrastructure spending as a way to create jobs. Those efforts have largely been stymied in recent years by concerns about how to pay for the projects.

The draft platform doesn't provide details about the specific infrastructure undertakings that Democrats would like to see funded. It calls for the creation of a national infrastructure bank to support “energy, water, broadband, transportation, and multi-modal infrastructure projects.”

The draft platform is expected to get a final vote during the Democratic National Convention, which begins July 25. If adopted, the draft would lay out the Democratic Party's official position on a wide range of issues in advance of the November elections.

Hillary Clinton, the party's presumptive presidential nominee, has said that if elected, she will increase infrastructure spending by $275 billion over five years.

TPP Language Divides Party

The platform also supports raising the federal minimum wage and reconsidering existing trade agreements to ensure that they adequately protect labor and other rights.

The trade language was less precise than suggested by some platform committee members, who wanted the platform to specifically oppose the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership. The 12-nation trade deal, which could get a vote in Congress following the November elections, has divided Democrats.

Reps. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who chairs the DNC's platform committee, and other members who oppose the TPP said they voted against more stringent language on the trade deal because President Barack Obama is pushing the agreement.

“This is the moment to bring this party together, and I don’t want to send a message of disunity,” Gutierrez said during the committee's June 25 drafting meeting.

Some committee members also wanted the platform to explicitly back increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour. Clinton has said the federal wage floor should instead be set at $12, but she also has supported efforts to go to $15 at the state and local levels.

The DNC additionally called for “a model employer executive order or some other vehicle to leverage federal dollars to support employers who provide their workers with a living wage, good benefits, and the opportunity to form a union.”

A group of House Democrats has been pushing for the executive order, which would give a contracting preference to employers that pay their workers at least $15 an hour and offer benefits, paid leave, full-time hours and predictable schedules.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Opfer in Washington at copfer@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan J. McGolrick at smcgolrick@bna.com

For More Information

Text of the draft platform is available at http://src.bna.com/guH.

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