Updated Oct 25, 2022 - Politics & Policy

House progressives withdraw Ukraine letter after backlash

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, wearing a purple striped jacket and tan shirt, speaks at an event.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.). Photo: Photo by Jovelle Tamayo/ for The Washington Post via Getty Images.

The Congressional Progressive Caucus on Tuesday announced it is withdrawing a letter to President Biden calling on him to couple military aid to Ukraine with a "proactive diplomatic push" to end hostilities with Russia.

Why it matters: The letter appeared to indicate that some on the Democratic Party’s left flank were advocating a softening of U.S. policy towards the war in Ukraine, though several members who signed on now say that’s not their position.

Driving the news: Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal, echoing the claims of some signees, said the letter was drafted "several months ago" and "unfortunately was released by staff without vetting."

  • "As Chair of the Caucus, I accept responsibility for this," Jayapal wrote, calling the letter a "distraction" because it was conflated with conservative objections to Ukraine aid.
  • "Nothing could be further from the truth. Every war ends with diplomacy, and this one will too after Ukrainian victory," Jayapal said.

The backdrop: The letter spurred swift rebukes from fellow Democrats, both privately and in public.

  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told Semafor Tuesday he disagreed with the letter and said the caucus was right to withdraw it, saying the Russia's invasion "has to be resisted."
  • "The suggestion that we make concessions on behalf of Ukraine is presumptuous, out of touch, and would only embolden Putin," tweeted Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.).
  • Rep. Jake Auchincloss (D-Mass.) called the letter an "olive branch to a war criminal who’s losing his war."
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