The lawmakers lasted a day before caving, and now say they want nothing less than a “Ukrainian victory”
A group of Democratic representatives in Washington have withdrawn a letter in which they urged President Joe Biden to try all means of ending the conflict in Ukraine, including “direct talks with Russia.” Concerned about being lumped in with anti-war Republicans, the lawmakers now say they back Biden’s policy of indefinite arms shipments to Kiev.
Penned by Congressional Progressive Caucus chair Pramila Jayapal (Washington), the letter called on Biden to “seriously explore all possible avenues, including direct engagement with Russia, to reduce harm and support Ukraine in achieving a peaceful settlement.” Some 30 House Democrats, including Ilhan Omar (Minnesota) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York), lent their signatures to the missive, which was sent to the White House on Monday.
Within hours, Jayapal “clarified” that the progressive caucus still backs Biden’s “ongoing military and economic support” for Kiev, and by Tuesday afternoon, the letter was withdrawn entirely.
Jayapal throws staff under the bus for the gentle suggestion of diplomacy to end a war, then pleads guilty to the greatest crime in Washington today: giving the appearance of agreeing with the other party.Letter suggesting diplomacy is “withdrawn.” pic.twitter.com/gaYEbSZV4X
— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) October 25, 2022
In a statement, Jayapal blamed staffers for releasing the letter. She went on to explain that the letter was pulled as it “created the unfortunate appearance” that the progressives were aligning with the growing minority of Republican lawmakers talking about reducing aid to Ukraine.
House and Senate Democrats voted unanimously to allocate $40 billion in military and economic aid to Kiev earlier this summer, with only 68 Republicans across both chambers opposing. However, with the GOP looking likely to retake Congress in November, party leader Kevin McCarthy declared last week that the new majority is not “going to write a blank check to Ukraine.”
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” Jayapal wrote, referring to the comparison between her caucus and the Republicans. “Every war ends with diplomacy and this one will too after Ukrainian victory.”
The retraction brings the progressives’ position on Ukraine back in line with that of Biden and the combined Democrat and Republican establishment. The president has promised to send weapons to Ukraine “for as long as it takes,” and to let Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky decide when to seek peace.
Zelensky has ruled out any peace talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and has vowed to capture parts of the territory of the Russian Federation, including Crimea.
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