Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 21, 2014

DNC Amends Platform Amid Controversy

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Caving under pressure from critics, the Democratic Party today decided to restore to its platform the word “God” and language recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

But on the floor of the Time Warner Cable Arena, where the Democratic National Convention is being held, the vote to do so seemed anything but decisive.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa gaveled the roll call vote to amend the platform and tried multiple times to secure the voice vote needed to approve the reinstated language.

“Let me try that again,” the confused Democratic National Convention co-chairman said after the first vote, during which it seemed an equal number of voices called out “Aye,” as they did, “Nay.”

He tried again, but to equally ambiguous results. After a third try, Villaraigosa decided to settle the issue, announcing that the vote had passed. The decision was met with boos from the crowd.

Not everybody believed the issue was settled.

“From NY delegation it sounded more than 2/3 opposed,” tweeted New York delegate Alex Yudelson, who identifies himself as an “Atheist-Jew” on his Twitter account.

A spokeswoman for the DNC declined to answer whether the party is 100 percent certain that the vote had passed with a two-thirds majority vote.

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz released a statement soon after the proceedings saying the status of Jerusalem should be debated by Israel and Palestine, not U.S. political parties.

“Our Party platform already expresses strong support for the peace process and makes clear the steps that any Palestinian partner must take to be a part of such a process  — recognizing Israel’s right to exist, rejecting violence, and adhering to existing agreements,” the Florida Congresswoman said.

Despite the confusion, the move drew immediate praise from some Members. Rep. Howard Berman released a statement saying the U.S. should stand with Israel.

“I’m happy to see the platform was revised. Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Israel, the heart and soul of the Jewish people,” the California Democrat said. “Israel serves as a beacon of democracy in a sea of uncertainty, and the light of that freedom shines forward from Jerusalem.”

The other change restores the phrase, “God-given” to the platform. The amended paragraph now reads, “We need a government that stands up for the hopes, values, and interests of working people, and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential.”

The campaign of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney responded to the amended Democratic platform with the following statement from spokesman Andrea Saul:

“Mitt Romney has consistently stated his belief that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. Although today’s voice vote at the Democratic National Convention was unclear, the Democratic Party has acknowledged Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. President Obama has repeatedly refused to say the same himself. Now is the time for President Obama to state in unequivocal terms whether or not he believes Jerusalem is Israel’s capital.”

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