Former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Wednesday named the co-chairs and members of their joint task forces meant to shore up Democratic Party unity ahead of November’s general election.
The announcement follows through on a pledge the two men made last month — when Sanders, the runner-up in the Democratic presidential primary, endorsed Biden, the party’s presumptive nominee — to establish working groups to advise the Biden campaign on six key policy areas: climate change, criminal justice reform, economy, education, health care, and immigration.
The task forces’ membership consists of a stable of prominent Democratic leaders and public policy experts, but its most notable appointee is Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the progressive New York congresswoman and superstar of the party’s left wing who backed Sanders during the primary contest and has evinced skepticism toward Biden’s more moderate ideology.
Ocasio-Cortez, who has championed The Green New Deal legislative package, was named one of the two co-chairs of the climate change task force, serving alongside John Kerry, the former secretary of state and longtime Massachusetts senator who was an early supporter of Biden.
The other five groups’ co-chairs include Chiraag Bains, director of legal strategies for the liberal think tank Demos; California Rep. Karen Bass; Ohio Rep. Marcia Fudge; Dr. Heather Gautney, a sociology professor and former Senate staffer; Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center; Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal; former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy; union activist Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA; California Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard; and Virginia Rep. Bobby Scott.
Additionally, Biden and Sanders named Carmel Martin of Biden for President and Analilia Mejia of Friends of Bernie Sanders as their respective campaign representatives “to coordinate and support the work” of the task forces.
In a news release, the Biden campaign said the task forces “will meet in advance of the Democratic National Convention to make recommendations to the DNC Platform Committee” and to Biden directly. “Building upon the work of the Democratic campaigns to date, the ultimate goal of the Unity Task Forces is to develop the most successful possible agenda for Democrats in 2020,” the campaign said.
Biden said in a statement that a “united party is key to defeating” President Donald Trump in six months, as well as “moving our country forward through an unprecedented crisis.” The task forces “will be essential to identifying ways to build on our progress and not simply turn the clock back to a time before Donald Trump, but transform our country,” he said.
“In the midst of the unprecedented economic and pandemic crises we face, the Democratic Party must think big, act boldly, and fight to change the direction of this country,” Sanders said in his own statement, adding: “I commend Joe Biden for working together with my campaign to assemble a group of leading thinkers and activists who can and will unify our party in a transformational and progressive direction.”
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