Many of the House’s most left-leaning members embarrassed themselves on Tuesday after they implored President Joe Biden to find a diplomatic solution to the war between Russia and Ukraine.
Thirty Progressive Caucus members led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) fired off a letter to Biden asking him to make “vigorous diplomatic efforts” to end the Ukraine war.
In the letter, the 30 Democrats led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, call on Biden to pair the unprecedented economic and military support the United States is providing Ukraine with a “proactive diplomatic push, redoubling efforts to seek a realistic framework for a cease fire.”
The Democrats are specifically concerned that the United States is not engaging in regular dialogue with Russia as part of its effort to end a protracted war that has caused thousands of deaths and displaced 13 million people. The Biden administration has been adamant that it is up to Kyiv whether and when to negotiate with Russia, arguing that Ukrainians as a free people should decide their fate.
“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,” Jayapal said. “Diplomacy is an important tool that can save lives — but it is just one tool.
“The alternative to diplomacy is protracted war, with both its attendant certainties and catastrophic and unknowable risks,” the letter continued.
But less than 24 hours later — after a behind-the-scenes drubbing by the party’s war hawks, no doubt — Jayapal and some of the letter’s signatories claimed that it was sent ‘by mistake’ and issued pathetic mea culpas.
“Timing in diplomacy is everything,” Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.) said on Twitter. “I signed this letter on June 30, but a lot has changed since then. I wouldn’t sign it today.”
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. https://t.co/jEJlTK1hJI
— Congresswoman Sara Jacobs (@RepSaraJacobs) October 25, 2022
Some pointed out, however, that the letter contained references to recent events that occurred in Ukraine, like last month’s illegal annexations of Ukrainian territory by Russia.
Then how does the letter reference the additional illegal annexations that occurred in September? https://t.co/LZhPeZMWzk
— Larissa💛🇺🇦💛 (@Larissa84403556) October 25, 2022
In any event, the progressives’ ‘bold stand’ didn’t last.
“The Congressional Progressive Caucus hereby withdraws its recent letter to the White House regarding Ukraine,” said a retraction, according to the Washington Post.
“The letter was drafted several months ago, but unfortunately was released by staff without vetting. As Chair of the Caucus, I accept responsibility for this,” Jayapal wrote, before pivoting to blame Republicans because, of course.
“Because of the timing, our message is being conflated by some as being equivalent to the recent statement by Republican Leader McCarthy threatening an end to aid to Ukraine if Republicans take over,” she wrote. The proximity of these statements created the unfortunate appearance that Democrats, who have strongly and unanimously supported and voted for every package of military, strategic, and economic assistance to the Ukrainian people, are somehow aligned with Republicans who seek to pull the plug on American support for President Zelensky and the Ukrainian forces.”
Investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald took the group to task over their quick reversal and excuse that the letter was a mistake.
They couldn’t even hold out for *24 hours*. What a complete humiliation. Joe Crowley must be sitting in his lobbyist office cackling each time this happens:https://t.co/s7605fJ9HZ
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) October 25, 2022