(CNS News) – Thirty progressive House Democrats, after signing onto a letter encouraging President Joe Biden to seek a “diplomatic” and “rapid end to the conflict” in Ukraine, withdrew their statement within 24 hours and assured the White House they would continue to support military aid to Ukraine.
On October 24, 30 Democratic House Members led by chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Rep. Pamila Jayapal (D-Wash.) sent a letter to President Biden urging him to “make vigorous diplomatic efforts in support of a negotiated settlement and ceasefire,” and “seek a rapid end to the conflict.”
The representatives begin the letter by praising the President’s continued support of Ukraine since Russia’s invasion in February while avoiding direct military action.
These lawmakers “urge” President Biden “to pair the military and economic support the United States has provided to Ukraine with a proactive diplomatic push,” which they insist to be “in the interests of Ukraine, the United States, and the world to avoid a prolonged conflict.”
“If there is a way to end the war while preserving a free and independent Ukraine,” the legislators argue, “it is America’s responsibility to pursue every diplomatic avenue to support such a solution that is acceptable to the people of Ukraine.”
The letter references the massive economic toll that the war has had on the world, as well as the devastating destruction of Ukrainian lives and land as justification for seeking a diplomatic end to the conflict.
The letter’s signatories include the following House Members:
Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.);
Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.);
Cori Bush (D-Miss.);
Jesús “Chuy” García (D-Ill.);
Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.);
Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.);
Ro Khanna (D-Calif.);
Barbara Lee (D-Calif.);
Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.);
Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.);
Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.);
Mark Pocan (D-Wis.);
Nydia Velásquez (D-N.Y.);
Gwen Moore (D-Wis.);
Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.);
Henry Johnson, Jr. (D-Ga.);
Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.);
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.);
Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.);
Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.);
Jamaal Bowman, Ed.D. (D-N.Y.);
Marie Newman (D-Ill.);
Alma Adams, Ph.D. (D-N.C.);
Chellie Pingree (D-Maine);
Jamie Raskin (D-Md.);
Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.);
Mark Takano (D-Calif.);
Andre Carson (D-Ind.);
Donald Payne, Jr. (D-N.J.);
Mark DeSaulnier (D-Calif.).
The letter ends, “In conclusion, we urge you to make vigorous diplomatic efforts in support of a negotiated settlement and ceasefire, engage in direct talks with Russia, explore prospects for a new European security arrangement acceptable to all parties that will allow for a sovereign and independent Ukraine, and, in coordination with our Ukrainian partners, seek a rapid end to the conflict and reiterate this goal as America’s chief priority.”
In response to the Progressives’ letter, White House spokesman John Kirby said that the U.S. is “not going to have conversations with the Russian leadership without the Ukrainians being represented,” and made clear that “Mr. Zelensky gets to determine – because it’s his country – what success looks like and when to negotiate.”
This letter marked a distinct break in the Democrat Party’s unity with the Biden administration’s Ukraine strategy since the start of the war.
For example, when Congress passed H.R. 7691 Additional Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2022 in May, not a single Democrat in the House or Senate voted against the $40 billion in aid to Ukraine. The bill only received 57 nay votes in the House and 11 in the Senate, all of which came from Republican members.
This initial move from the Progressive Caucus signaled the first anti-war push made by Democrat legislators since Russia’s invasion.
However, Representative Jayapal said in a statement on Oct. 25 that “the letter was drafted several months ago” and “was released by staff without vetting.”
The Progressive Caucus Chair said their “message is being conflated by some as being equivalent to the recent statement by Republican Leader McCarthy threatening an end to aid to Ukraine, if Republicans take over.”
“The proximity of these statements created the unfortunate appearance that Democrats, who have strongly and unanimously supported and voted for every package of military, strategic, and economic assistance to the Ukrainian people, are somehow aligned with Republicans who seek to pull the plug on American support for President Zelensky and the Ukrainian forces,” the statement reads.
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) October 25, 2022
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February, the United States has drawn down a total of $17.6 billion in DOD equipment.
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