House Democrats grilled Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFive ways Senate could change Biden's spending plan Poll: Harris, Michelle Obama lead for 2024 if Biden doesn't run Bernie Sanders' ex-spokesperson apprehensive over effectiveness of SALT deductions MORE (I-Vt.) about his party loyalty and his timeline for endorsing presumptive presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRepublicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves Poll: Democracy is under attack, and more violence may be the future Popping the progressive bubble MORE during a meeting Wednesday morning.
Sanders refused to offer a timeline for when he’ll endorse Clinton, despite questions from lawmakers — most of whom backed the former secretary of State early in the primary race.
While Sanders began the session with remarks resembling a typical stump speech, the session at times turned tense as lawmakers questioned his commitment to the Democratic Party, given that he has always identified as an independent.
Politico reported that Democrats booed when Sanders said his goal is to “transform America” instead of win elections.
Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerald (Gerry) Edward ConnollyHouse Democrats miss chance to help McAuliffe Progressives see infrastructure vote next week Dem hopes for infrastructure vote hit brick wall MORE (D-Va.), however, disputed the Politico report. "Expressions of disagreement are NOT booing," he tweeted
.@politico story is false. Bernie was respectfully received by Caucus. Some disagreements, yes, but a friendly venue— Gerry Connolly (@GerryConnolly) July 6, 2016
Sanders was reflective and thoughtful in responses. Expressions of disagreement are NOT booing— Gerry Connolly (@GerryConnolly) July 6, 2016
Sanders was also asked about whether he’d be willing to reform caucuses in the same way he’s been pushing to overhaul the superdelegate system in future Democratic presidential primaries. Sanders has called for more open primaries, but hasn’t taken a similar position on caucuses, in which he frequently performed better during the contest against Clinton.
“There were some candid conversations. He was asked about his commitment to the party, he was asked about, you want to go after superdelegates, what about caucuses?” said Connolly. “He acknowledged that caucuses can be a problem. But he also talked about firehouse caucuses, which can maybe bridge that gap.”
“He took a little bit of heat and did it with grace,” Connolly said.
However, Democrats viewed Sanders’s coordination on Wednesday with Clinton’s campaign in support of his debt-free college tuition plan as a good first step toward party unity ahead of the party's national convention in Philadelphia later this month.
“I think Sen. Sanders has brought a lot of energy to this campaign and Sen. Sanders has earned a way forward to bring his supporters together. And I think that’s the timeline he’s working on,” said Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), who chairs the House Democrats’ campaign arm.
“Today is evidence that Sen. Sanders and Secretary Clinton are working together,” Luján said.
--This report was updated at 1:01 p.m.