US election: Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders form 'policy working groups' for 2020 campaign

Presumptive nominee joins senator's camp to 'work out real solutions to these very, very important problems' in bid to lure progressive voters

Alex Woodward
New York
Tuesday 14 April 2020 09:31 BST
Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders to form six policy working groups

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders will form six "policy working groups" addressing six issues that were central to the Vermont senator's campaign, which he suspended last week.

The former vice president announced that the groups - focusing on healthcare, education, the economy, criminal justice, immigration and climate change - will be "made up of thoughtful leaders who have worked with Bernie and some who have supported me as well" to determine a potential Biden administration agenda.

He said: "Their task is to come up with creative new ideas and proposals. We're looking forward to turning that work into positive change for the country."

Mr Biden announced the groups in a live-streamed video with the senator, following his endorsement of the former vice president for the Democratic nomination to face Donald Trump in the presidential race.

While details and group membership have not been announced, their appearance marks the presumptive nominee's first public attempt to bridge the two campaigns after he sought the votes of Mr Sanders's millions of supporters on the left in a statement last week.

To Mr Sanders's progressive base, Mr Biden said: "I see you, I hear you, and I understand the urgency of what it is we have to get done in this country. I hope you will join us. You are more than welcome. You're needed."

"I can't tell you how much I appreciate how much you've done," he told Mr Sanders on Monday. "We've disagreed, but we're friends. I appreciate your friendship and I promise I won't let you down."

But his first policy announcement following the senator's withdrawal from the race — lowering the Medicare eligibility from 65 to 60 — is far more conservative than even ideas once floated by Hillary Clinton in 2016, when she suggested lowering enrolment at age 50. Mr Biden has also proposed eliminating some student loan debt.

His latest agenda barely taps the senator's ambitious proposals: opening Medicare for all Americans, eliminating a for-profit insurance industry, and cancelling all college debt.

Their policy working groups would confront their often ideologically opposed platforms as Mr Biden works to gain the support of voters to his left — particularly among younger people, who overwhelmingly supported Mr Sanders over Mr Biden.

In a letter to his campaign, millennial and Gen Z political organisations Justice Democrats, the Sunrise Movement and March for Our Lives have pressured the candidate on a number of issues, including the adoption of a Green New Deal and free college tuition, among other policies championed by the senator.

The groups said they are prepared to more than $100m reaching out to millions of their supporters "and potential voters this election cycle" with assurance that his campaign "speaks to our generation."

Mr Sanders said the working groups wouldn't "paper over" their differences but will instead "come together utilising the best minds and people in your campaign and in my campaign to work out real solutions to these very, very important problems."

Briahna Joy Gray, the former press secretary for Mr Sanders's campaign, said: "I look forward to seeing what these task forces come up with: The support of a multitude of progressives hinges on Biden making meaningful concessions to the left — not just lip service — not merely symbolic overtures."

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in