Progressives retract Ukraine letter to Biden after uproar

WASHINGTON (AP) – A group of progressive Democrats in Congress said Tuesday it withdrew a letter to the White House urging President Joe Biden to engage in direct talks with Russia after it sparked uproar among Democrats and raised questions about the Democrat’s influence. party support in Ukraine.

In his speech, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, chairwoman of the Progressive Caucus, said the organization was withdrawing the letter it had sent less than 24 hours earlier. It was signed by 30 members of the right wing of the party.

“The letter was written months ago, but unfortunately was released by staff without a vote,” the Washington Democrat said in a statement. As the caucus chairman, Jayapal said he did this.

The unusual reversal left Democrats reeling for 24 hours. Many were angered by the appearance of backing the Ukrainian president’s approach, coming just weeks before midterm elections in which their congressional leadership is on the line.

The back-and-forth highlighted the strained relationship between Biden and the progressive wing of his party, raising questions about their ability to work together not only on the Ukraine issue — which seems safe, for now — but on pressing issues. Very important for the free.

The letter called on Biden to combine unprecedented economic and military aid to Ukraine with “diplomatic persistence, renewed efforts to find a solution to the fire.”

“Instead of negotiations is a long-term war, with certain and dangerous risks and unknowns,” the letter read.

Jayapal said the letter was unfairly confused by recent comments from Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who warned that Republicans would not write a “check” on Ukraine if they regain a majority in the House in November.

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“The closeness of these words made it look sad that the Democrats, who have strongly and unanimously supported and voted for any military, technical, and financial aid to the Ukrainian people, are in some way aligned with the Republicans who want to pull the plug on American aid” to Ukraine. , Jayapal said.

However, Jayapal did not deny the contents of the letter or pressure Biden to participate in the talks. Caucus members have been calling for a diplomatic solution since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s troops invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Drafts of the letter have been circulating since June, but only a handful of lawmakers have signed on at the time, according to two Democrats familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal party matters.

Some Democrats who signed the letter a few months ago said they no longer support it.

“I signed this letter on June 30, but a lot has changed since then,” Democratic Representative Sara Jacobs of California said on Twitter. “I wouldn’t sign today.”

“We must continue to support Ukraine financially and militarily to give them the strength they need to end this war,” he said.

When the White House received the letter on Monday, it acknowledged the “grave concerns” that progressives had about the conflict in Ukraine; When asked about the letter after it was removed on Tuesday, the press secretary of the White House, Karine Jean-Pierre, confirmed that the administration still believes that any proposal to negotiate peace with Russia is with the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

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“There is nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine. We have been well aware of this,” said Jean-Pierre on Tuesday. “Our task as we see it today, as we have seen it in the last year – more than a year – is to make sure that Ukraine has what it wants on the ground.”

Privately, national security officials believed it was not as big a change as the public expected, according to people familiar with the official’s views. The White House did not encourage Jayapal to return the letter, according to the people, who were not asked to discuss internal White House opinions.

Despite the backlash and confusion, Democratic lawmakers said they still support what’s behind the letter, saying it’s Congress’ responsibility to challenge the issue while continuing to approve billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine.

“I voted for arms to Ukraine and I will continue to support the provision of arms to Ukraine to fight Putin’s tyranny,” Rep. Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., said Tuesday.

“At the same time, it is my responsibility to make sure that we are reducing the risk of nuclear war, that we are making sure that the conflict does not escalate and that we are working towards an agreement that will be a just peace. That is the basis of the letter.”

Backing off from the letter’s signatories — including caucus articulate voices like Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar – came directly to Jayapal, who is the face of the liberal movement. It was the latest reversal for the congresswoman, who has worked for the past half year to help Biden and Democrats fulfill other party promises, often at the expense of some of her party’s most important interests.

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Notably, last fall, Jayapal helped spearhead a two-term package after party divisions threatened to invade the House. The recent missteps also cast doubt on his whispers to enter the democratic leadership.

Since the start of the war, Congress has approved billions in emergency defense and emergency aid for Ukraine, while the Biden administration has sent billions in weapons and equipment from the military.

Last month, lawmakers approved $12.3 billion in aid to Ukraine as part of the government’s federal spending bill until December 16. The money included aid for the Ukrainian military and aid to the country’s government to provide essential services to its government. citizens.

This comes on top of the more than $50 billion provided in the previous two bills.

Financial aid to Ukraine received strong bipartisan support in the Senate and the House after the Russian invasion, but moderate opposition was present from the start. Republicans cast their own votes against the $40 billion aid package last spring.

Recent comments from McCarthy have made clear the GOP’s growing skepticism about the cost of bailing out Kyiv.

Privately, GOP lawmakers who support aid to Ukraine say there may be an opportunity for another spending spree at the end of the year, before Republicans take control in the next Congress.

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This article is designed to show that Rep. Sara Jacobs is from California, not New York.

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