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Progressives retract Ukraine letter to Biden after uproar

By FARNOUSH AMIRI and SEUNG MIN KIM, 26 Oct 22

WASHINGTON (AP) — A group of progressive Democrats in Congress said Tuesday it had retracted a letter to the White House urging President Joe Biden to engage in direct diplomatic talks with Russia after it triggered an uproar among Democrats and raised questions about the strength of the party’s support for Ukraine.

In a statement, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the Progressive Caucus, said the caucus was withdrawing the letter it sent less than 24 hours prior. It was signed by 30 members of the party’s liberal flank.

“The letter was drafted several months ago, but unfortunately was released by staff without vetting,” the Washington Democrat wrote in a statement. As chair of the caucus, Jayapal said she took responsibility for this.

The unusual retraction capped a tense 24-hour period for Democrats. Many reacted angrily to the appearance of flagging support for the president’s Ukraine strategy, coming just weeks before a midterm election where their majorities in Congress are at risk.

The back-and-forth spotlighted the fragile nature of Biden’s relationship with the progressive wing of his party, raising stark questions about their ability to work together not only on Ukraine funding — which seems secure, for now — but on more pressing issues that are top priorities for liberals.

The letter had called for Biden to pair the unprecedented economic and military support for Ukraine with a “proactive diplomatic push, redoubling efforts to seek a realistic framework for a cease fire.”

“The alternative to diplomacy is protracted war, with both its attendant certainties and catastrophic and unknowable risks,” the letter read.

Jayapal said the letter was unfairly conflated with recent comments from Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who warned that Republicans will not write a “blank check” for Ukraine if they win back the House majority in November.


Progressives retract Ukraine letter to Biden after uproar

By FARNOUSH AMIRI and SEUNG MIN KIMyesterday

FILE - Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., chair of the House Progressive Caucus, attends an event at the Capitol in Washington, July 28, 2022. A group of progressive Democrats in Congress said Tuesday it had retracted a letter to the White House urging President Joe Biden to engage in direct diplomatic talks with Russia after it triggered an uproar among Democrats and raised questions about the strength of the party's support for Ukraine. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

FILE – Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., chair of the House Progressive Caucus, attends an event at the Capitol in Washington, July 28, 2022. A group of progressive Democrats in Congress said Tuesday it had retracted a letter to the White House urging President Joe Biden to engage in direct diplomatic talks with Russia after it triggered an uproar among Democrats and raised questions about the strength of the party’s support for Ukraine. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A group of progressive Democrats in Congress said Tuesday it had retracted a letter to the White House urging President Joe Biden to engage in direct diplomatic talks with Russia after it triggered an uproar among Democrats and raised questions about the strength of the party’s support for Ukraine.

In a statement, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the Progressive Caucus, said the caucus was withdrawing the letter it sent less than 24 hours prior. It was signed by 30 members of the party’s liberal flank.

“The letter was drafted several months ago, but unfortunately was released by staff without vetting,” the Washington Democrat wrote in a statement. As chair of the caucus, Jayapal said she took responsibility for this.

The unusual retraction capped a tense 24-hour period for Democrats. Many reacted angrily to the appearance of flagging support for the president’s Ukraine strategy, coming just weeks before a midterm election where their majorities in Congress are at risk.

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The back-and-forth spotlighted the fragile nature of Biden’s relationship with the progressive wing of his party, raising stark questions about their ability to work together not only on Ukraine funding — which seems secure, for now — but on more pressing issues that are top priorities for liberals.

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The letter had called for Biden to pair the unprecedented economic and military support for Ukraine with a “proactive diplomatic push, redoubling efforts to seek a realistic framework for a cease fire.”

“The alternative to diplomacy is protracted war, with both its attendant certainties and catastrophic and unknowable risks,” the letter read.

Jayapal said the letter was unfairly conflated with recent comments from Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., who warned that Republicans will not write a “blank check” for Ukraine if they win back the House majority in November.

“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 Ukraine, Jayapal said.

Yet Jayapal did not disavow the substance of the letter or the push for Biden to engage in diplomacy. Members of the caucus have been calling for a diplomatic solution since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

The text of the letter had been circulating since at least June, but only a handful of lawmakers signed on at the time, according to two Democrats familiar with the matter who were granted anonymity to discuss internal party deliberations.

Some Democrats who signed the letter months ago said they no longer support it………………………

Despite the retraction and messy behind-the-scenes process, some Democratic lawmakers said they still backed the sentiments behind the letter, arguing that it is the prerogative of Congress to debate the issue as it continues to approve billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine…………………….

Since the war began, Congress has approved tens of billions in emergency security and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine, while the Biden administration has shipped billions worth of weapons and equipment from military inventories.

Last month, lawmakers approved about $12.3 billion in Ukraine-related aid as part of a bill that finances the federal government through Dec. 16. The money included aid for the Ukrainian military as well as money to help the country’s government provide basic services to its citizens.

That comes on top of more than $50 billion provided in two previous bills………………………………….. more https://apnews.com/article/russia-ukraine-biden-europe-congress-government-and-politics-e474bfd7439a57e7923aa1d1b43c8682

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October 26, 2022 - Posted by | politics, USA

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