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Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.). Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

House progressives have a message for President Biden ahead of his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin: talking is good.

Driving the news: Fifteen members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus are writing to Biden on Wednesday to encourage him to work with Putin on a range of issues, from arms control to climate change, Axios has learned.

  • “In these talks, we hope that you will prioritize ways that the United States and Russia can work together to reduce tensions in areas of dispute and cooperate on areas of global importance,” wrote Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), the CPC chairperson, and 14 others.
  • “The U.S. and Russia combined hold more than 90% of the world’s nuclear warheads. We believe that armed conflict between Russia and the United States would be a catastrophe for both countries, for Europe, our allies, and for the world.”

Why it matters: The Democratic Party, including many of its progressive members, spent the Trump years arguing for a more assertive approach toward Russia.

  • They criticized Donald Trump for not dealing with President Putin more harshly, amid allegations the former president had been co-opted by his counterpart.
  • The CPC letter indicates some Democrats want to revert to a foreign policy that seeks to engage — and not antagonize — Russia.

Flashback: During the 2012 campaign, President Obama mocked his opponent, now-Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), for arguing that Russia posed a serious threat to America.

  • He said the “1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.”
  • During Trump’s presidency, many Democrats, including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, apologized to Romney.

Go deeper

Biden steps into the breach

Sen. Joe Manchin heads to a meeting with President Biden today. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

President Biden ramped up the pressure on his fellow Democrats Wednesday, calling a series of lawmakers to the White House in the hope of ending infighting and getting them in line.

Why it matters: Divisions within the party are threatening to derail Biden's top priorities. After several weeks of letting negotiations play out, the president is finally asserting his power to ensure his own party doesn't block his agenda.

Sep 22, 2021 - World

Scoop: Russia seeks trilateral talks with U.S. and Israel on Syria

Secretaries Blinken (left) and Lavrov. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry\TASS via Getty

Russia has asked Israel to encourage the U.S. to agree to hold high-level trilateral talks on Syria, two senior Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: Israel's main focus in Syria is getting Iran out, and that would likely only be possible through U.S.-Russian cooperation. 

Sep 23, 2021 - Politics & Policy

N.Y. Times compares Biden to Trump

U.S. Customs and Border Protection mounted officers attempt to contain migrants as they cross the Rio Grande on Sunday. Photo: Felix Marquez/AP

Citing moves on Afghanistan and the border, two N.Y. Times items compare President Biden to the predecessor he defeated:

A news story — "Biden Pushes Deterrent Border Policy After Promising 'Humane' Approach" — notes this week's images of the border roundup "could have come straight from former President Donald J. Trump’s immigration playbook."

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