Both conservatives and liberals ripped the U.S. House of Representatives’ Progressive Caucus after it retracted its letter to President Biden urging him to engage in peace talks with Russian to end its war in Ukraine.
On Tuesday, caucus chair Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., issued a statement revealing that she and her fellow caucus members were scrapping a letter that was sent to Biden only a day before asking him to meet with Putin to find an end to the war.
In her statement, Jayapal claimed that the drafting of the letter had been a mistake, stating, “The letter was drafted several months ago, but unfortunately was released by staff without vetting.”
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Jayapal also claimed that she regretted the letter being conflated with GOP leadership calling for an end to American aid for Ukraine. She added, “The letter sent yesterday has been conflated with GOP opposition to support for the Ukrainians’ just defense of their national sovereignty. As such, it is a distraction at this time, and we withdraw the letter.”
The Guardian reported that the original letter, sent to the White House on Monday, “called on Biden to make ‘vigorous diplomatic efforts’ towards a ‘negotiated settlement and ceasefire.’” The Progressive Caucus warned that “global hunger and poverty that could ensue from Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine” as well as high energy costs here in America.
It stressed that America should seek “a rapid end to the conflict” and proposed that Biden explore “incentives to end hostilities, including some form of sanctions relief” for Russia.
The letter received pushback from other Democrats that Jayapal had to release a “clarification” for the letter, which stated in part, “Let me be clear: we are united as Democrats in our unequivocal commitment to supporting Ukraine in their fight for their democracy and freedom in the face of the illegal and outrageous Russian invasion, and nothing in the letter advocates for a change in that support.”
Twitter users slammed the flip-flopping on the part of Jayapal and the Progressive Caucus.
Former Obama senior advisor David Axelrod claimed that the whole thing “was a debacle.”
Washington Post economics reporter Jeff Stein remarked that Jayapal’s statement was “One of the more blatant attempts to throw your own staff under the bus I’ve seen since getting to Washington.”
RedState senior editor Joe Cunningham quipped, “that Ukraine letter is the latest victim of cancel culture.”
Independent journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted, “Holy shit! The humiliation of @RepJayapal and the House Progressive Caucus just got worse, even when it appeared it couldn’t. Her degrading reversal of their Ukraine letter after 1 day wasn’t enough. Now they’re formally ‘retracting’ it, blaming staff.”
Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., mocked the caucus, writing, “After just 24 hours, members of the congressional progressive caucus withdrew their letter urging the President to seek a peaceful resolution to the war in Ukraine. At this point, I suppose it’s in order for me to withdraw my statement of appreciation for their courage.”
Author and Compact Magazine editor Sohrab Amari wrote, “What happened to the antiwar left? I wrote this column yesterday before the 30 House progressives sent their letter calling for diplomacy on Ukraine. I was a tad worried it would undermine the column’s argument — but they just withdrew it!”
Democratic Rep. Sara Jacobs, D-Calif., who signed the letter, tweeted that she regretted.
“Timing in diplomacy is everything. I signed this letter on June 30, but a lot has changed since then. I wouldn’t sign it today. We have to continue supporting Ukraine economically and militarily to give them the leverage they need to end this war,” she wrote.
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Democratic Party strategist Adam Parkhomenko expressed his frustration with the whole situation, tweeting, “I’m furious about this. Not just the initial letter or the walk back. But the fact that we spent a day — 15 days out from an election — having to ask members of our own party to stand with Ukraine.”
“What a mess. @RepJayapal and other left-wing Dems now withdraw their problematic Ukraine letter that was criticized when it was made public yesterday (but was, according to some who signed it, written months ago),” Financial Times Ukraine correspondent Chrstopher Miller wrote.