The Congressional Progressive Caucus on Monday evening sought to couch a statement from earlier in the day requesting that President Biden shift his administration’s policies on Ukraine and start some form of negotiations with Russia.
In a move that raised questions among fellow Democrats, a group of dozens of liberal House lawmakers led by Congressional Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) sent a letter earlier in the day to the White House calling for a possible diplomatic solution to end Moscow’s unprovoked conflict with Ukraine.
“Given the destruction created by this war for Ukraine and the world, as well as the risk of catastrophic escalation, we also believe it is in the interests of Ukraine, the United States, and the world to avoid a prolonged conflict,” Jayapal wrote on behalf of the caucus. “For this reason, we urge you to pair the military and economic support the United States has provided to Ukraine with a proactive diplomatic push, redoubling efforts to seek a realistic framework for a ceasefire.”
Several hours after the letter, which was first reported by The Washington Post, was released, the caucus sent a rare follow-up statement intended to fine-tune its original message.
“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,” wrote Jayapal.
“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,” she added.
The initial correspondence was met with skepticism from some Democrats who questioned Jayapal’s leadership and motivation for calling for a new strategy. She sought to tweak her caucus’s stance, reaffirming her commitment to Biden’s foreign policy at a time when the party is facing divides over ideology and messaging on a number of fronts ahead of next month’s midterm elections.
“Diplomacy is an important tool that can save lives — but it is just one tool,” she wrote. “As we also made explicitly clear in our letter and will continue to make clear, we support President Biden and his administration’s commitment to nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine.”
The letter comes just two weeks before Election Day as Democrats struggle to find an economic message that resonates with voters. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing war have had a ripple effect on the U.S. economy and Americans’ daily lives, including through higher fuel prices.