Sen. Bernie Sanders announced his support Wednesday for Hillary Clinton’s college affordability plan, a compromise proposal he said moves him closer to agreement with the presumptive Democratic nominee.
“This proposal combines some of the strongest ideas that she fought for during the campaign, with some of the principles that I fought for,” Sanders said in a news conference at his Washington campaign office.
The initiative is aimed at relieving student loan debt and making college tuition at public universities free for all students from families who earn less than $125,000 a year. The proposal was developed after negotiations between his staff and hers.
“This is one issue,” Sanders said. “There are other issues. We are working with Secretary Clinton on some initiatives. I hope we can reach agreement on them sooner rather than later.”
The news conference came as Sanders is facing increased pressure to endorse Clinton, who bested him after a long primary season. At a Wednesday meeting with House Democrats, the Vermont senator faced questions about why he remains in the race and when he would commit to the likely nominee.
“He didn’t directly get criticism for staying in but he was certainly pressed, when are you going to endorse, what is the timeline?” said Rep. Gerald E. Connolly, D-Va. “There was a lot of talk, favorable talk, from him and others about the platform process.”
With the Democratic platform committee meeting this weekend in Orlando, Sanders and his supporters are pushing hard for the priorities that framed his campaign.
At the same time, Sanders has backed away from criticizing Clinton directly. Wednesday, he declined to discuss the news that the FBI would not recommend charges against Clinton, despite what the agency’s director, James B. Comey, called “extremely careless” conduct.
“I think you have heard me say, from day one, that there is a process involved in trying, in terms of the investigation regarding Secretary Clinton’s emails,” Sanders said. “Yesterday was an important part of that process. Now we wait to hear from the Justice Department.”
Sanders said that the new college affordability proposal, developed by both staffs, “will revolutionize the funding of higher education in America” when implemented.
“It is basically insane that so many of our bright young people are unable to afford the cost of college and get the education they need and it is equally crazy that millions more leave school deeply in debt,” Sanders said.