Sanders Wages Fight for Democrats to Show 'Strong Opposition' to Trans-Pacific Trade Deal

An op-ed and campaign petition call on the party to take a stance on the issue.

ByABC News
July 3, 2016, 5:08 PM

— -- Bernie Sanders is calling out Hillary Clinton delegates on the Democratic Party's platform-drafting committee for failing to support certain amendments regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.

In an op-ed published Sunday in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Sanders highlights parts of the party platform document that he supports, including language about Citizens' United, an expansion of Social Security and Wall Street reform.

"These are all major accomplishments that will begin to move the country in the right direction," Sanders writes.

But he goes on to say the document, which the full drafting committee will vote on again before the party's convention this month, needs to be "significantly improved."

He says that one of the most important amendments that his delegates on the committee will offer is "to make it clear that the Democratic Party is strongly opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership."

Sanders suggests in the op-ed that his members on the committee had offered an amendment to state the party's opposition to having the TPP voted on during the lame-duck session of Congress, but that the amendment was defeated with all of Clinton's delegates voting against it.

"I don't understand that because Clinton, during the campaign, made it very clear that she did not want to see the TPP appear on the floor during the lame-duck session," Sanders writes.

In addition to the op-ed, the Sanders campaign website has launched a petition asking signers to "Tell the DNC Platform Committee: Strongly Oppose the TPP in the Party Platform."

The Clinton campaign responded to ABC News' request for comment by forwarding a recent statement the candidate made on TPP in response to criticisms from the Trump campaign: "Hillary Clinton opposes TPP today, she will oppose it in November, and she would not move it forward in January. Hillary Clinton has made clear that she is not interested in tinkering around the margins with TPP. As she has said repeatedly, she believes we need a new approach to trade that protects American jobs, raises incomes for American workers, and strengthens our national security."

A surrogate for Clinton, Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, also on Sunday addressed the candidate's stance on TPP.

Brown said on ABC's "This Week" that Clinton previously supported TPP because as secretary of state for President Obama she was advocating a trade policy he supported.

"It was her boss," Brown said. "She was the secretary of state for the president. Of course she's going to the take those positions."

"I trust her on this," he added.

Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton delivers an economic speech at Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center in Columbus, June 21, 2016.
Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The platform-drafting committee on June 24 voted down an amendment opposing the TPP that had been proposed by Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, a Sanders delegate on the panel.

Other members of the committee said it would be wrong for the platform to undercut the outgoing Democratic president, who has promoted the TPP.

"What I don't want to do is leave this place disregarding the position of the president of the United States," said Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a Clinton supporter.

But Cornel West, a civil rights leader and Sanders supporter on the committee, said it was important for the party to take a stand against the trade deal, which Sanders has opposed because of his concerns about the loss of manufacturing jobs.