Progressive Democrats in the House are walking back a letter they sent to President Biden that called for talks with Russia after facing backlash for suggesting diplomacy should be pursued to end the war in Ukraine.
The letter was signed by 30 lawmakers and was led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The lawmakers made clear in the letter that they support the Biden administration’s policy of shipping tens of billions of dollars in weapons to Ukraine, but said diplomacy should be pursued due to the risk of nuclear war and “catastrophic escalation.”
After the letter became public on Monday, Jayapal issued a statement clarifying that she supports the Biden administration’s Ukraine policy. “In a letter to President Biden today, my colleagues and I advocated for the administration to continue ongoing military and economic support for Ukrainians while pursuing diplomatic support to Ukraine to ensure we are helpful partners on efforts to reach ‘a solution that is acceptable to the people of Ukraine,” Jayapal said.
She added that Democrats are “unequivocal commitment to supporting Ukraine” and said that she agreed with the administration’s position that nothing can be talked about with Russia “without Ukraine.”
In the letter, the lawmakers said they agreed with the administration’s position on not making a deal without Ukraine. But they added that “as legislators responsible for the expenditure of tens of billions of US taxpayer dollars in military assistance in the conflict, we believe such involvement in this war also creates a responsibility for the United States to seriously explore all possible avenues.”
Other signatories to the letter said it was drafted months ago and that they wouldn’t support it today. “I signed this letter on June 30, but a lot has changed since then. I wouldn’t sign it today,” Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-CA) wrote on Twitter Tuesday. “We have to continue supporting Ukraine economically and militarily to give them the leverage they need to end this war.”