AILSA CHANG, HOST:
Three weeks ahead of the Democratic National Convention, Democrats are voting today on their party's platform. Like most things these days, including most of that upcoming convention, it's been a remote affair. The policy document is the Democrats' latest attempt to bridge the gap between the party's more moderate and progressive wings. NPR political correspondent Scott Detrow has been following along and joins us now.
SCOTT DETROW, BYLINE: Hey. Good afternoon.
CHANG: Hey. So what are some of the planks getting hammered out in this platform?
DETROW: So the committee is voting on it throughout this afternoon, and we're waiting to see the exact language of a lot of the amendments that have been added in today. But looking at the draft released last week, it looked a lot like that recommendations that were put together by a joint task force organized by the Biden campaign and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. We had talked a lot about that. It was an attempt to get progressives more invested in Biden's campaign and to shift him to the left a little. So health care was a good example of how that worked. Sanders and his allies knew that Joe Biden was not suddenly going to be in favor of "Medicare for All," which he opposed throughout the primary and which we talked about 16,000 times on...
DETROW: ...ALL THINGS CONSIDERED throughout that process. But, you know, the final language in that task force report and in the platform makes it clear that universal health care is the ultimate end goal for the party. And it embraces a pretty expansive public health insurance option that would be added to the existing Affordable Care Act. So shifts like that are in this that go a bit beyond Joe Biden's previous stances in a lot of policy areas, including climate change and criminal justice reform and in many other areas.
CHANG: OK. And I understand that today, dozens of Democratic representatives met virtually to consider this draft platform. What did people have to say about it?
DETROW: There have been a lot of speeches. Of course, there have been several Zoom glitches.
CHANG: Oh, goody.
DETROW: We are waiting for that final language again. But, you know, you saw some amendments addressing recent events, like President Trump sending federal agents into cities like Portland; also some pushes by Sanders supporters to move things even more to the left. There was a vote on changing the platform to endorse Medicare for All. It did fail by a large margin. And anticipating that, the Democratic Party Chair Tom Perez opened the meeting by saying the debate over policy does not mean the party is falling apart and divided with each other.
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TOM PEREZ: We should never confuse unity with unanimity nor should we confuse debate with division. Our party, like our country, has always been stronger for its diversity. And make no mistake about it. We have far more in common than what our differences are.
DETROW: So even as Democrats struggle to do business as usual over Zoom with some unintentional muting and things like that, it is worth noting that Republicans did not try to do this at all. Amid the several back-and-forths about what Republicans would do with their convention, they decided just to use the 2016 platform in full this year.
CHANG: So funny - I mean, I get it; how many of us still forget to mute on Zoom. Anyway, Scott, you know, does today give us a preview of the party conventions themselves, you think?
DETROW: It does. The Democratic convention will be almost all remote, very scaled back. State delegates were told not to even come to Milwaukee. Joe Biden will accept the nomination there, but it's unclear who else will be there. And some of the other high-profile Democrats that we'll hear from throughout the week may be delivering their remarks from other parts of the country. Just this afternoon, we got word that all attendees at the convention will have to take daily COVID-19 tests administered in Milwaukee before entering the arena. They'll also have to agree to wear masks at all times when outside their hotel rooms. And Democrats are urging people to get a test beforehand. Though, of course, it's hard to do that in a lot of places right now. And just to step back, this is so different than the Republicans. Democrats had planned on this minimized careful approach for a while now. Republicans are still making up their minds.
CHANG: That is NPR's Scott Detrow.
Thank you, Scott.
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