They also worried the letter could put more pressure on Biden as he tries to maintain domestic support for the war effort, at a time when the region is facing a potentially difficult winter and Republicans are threatening to cut aid to Ukraine if they fail. retake Congress.
On Tuesday, Jayapal said the letter had been drafted several months ago and was “released without review by staff”. She also tried to distance Democrats from recent comments by Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who suggested that a GOP-led House would not support additional aid to Ukraine.
“As chairman of the Caucus, I accept responsibility for this,” Jayapal said in a statement. “The proximity of these statements gave the unfortunate appearance that the Democrats, who have strongly and unanimously supported and voted for every package of military, strategic and economic aid to the Ukrainian people, are somehow aligned with the Republicans. who are trying to pull the plug on the US military. support for President Zelensky and the Ukrainian Armed Forces.”
Earlier, several signatories to the letter also returned their support for the letter, saying it was written months ago. Late Monday, Representative Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) seemed to feel sorry for anyone who criticized the letter on Twitter.
“You hear. First of all, this was written in July and I have no idea why it went out now. Bad timing,” Pocan tweeted.
“Timing in diplomacy is everything,” Representative Sara Jacobs (D-Calif.), one of the other signatories to the letter, tweeted Tuesday morning. “I signed this letter on June 30, but a lot has changed since then. I wouldn’t sign it today. We must continue to support Ukraine economically and militarily to give them the leverage they need to end this war.”
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 must continue to support 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
In the original letter to the White House, dated Oct. 24 and first reported by The Washington Post, lawmakers called on Biden to pursue a “proactive diplomatic push, doubling down on efforts to establish a realistic framework.” to seek a ceasefire.”
The Liberals noted that the disastrous effects of the war are increasingly being felt far beyond Ukraine, including high food and gas prices in the United States and spikes in wheat, fertilizer and fuel prices that have caused global food shortages. not to mention the danger of a nuclear attack by Moscow.
The letter was signed by some of the best known and most outspoken liberal Democrats in Congress, including Representatives Jamie Raskin (Md.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY), Cori Bush (Mo.), Ro Khanna (Calif.) and Ilhan. Omar (Min.).
For now, their position remains a minority in the Democratic Party, which has overwhelmingly supported Biden’s denunciations of Russia and his spearheading a global coalition to channel massive aid to Ukraine. Biden has framed the conflict as part of his broader view that the world is witnessing a historic confrontation between authoritarianism and democracy.
White House spokesman John Kirby said on Monday that the administration appreciated the “very thoughtful concerns” of lawmakers, but signaled no shift in government strategy towards Ukraine.
“We are not going to have talks with the Russian leadership without the Ukrainians being represented,” Kirby said during a briefing with reporters on Monday. “Mr. Zelensky gets to decide – because it’s his country – what success looks like and when to negotiate.”
Privately, some government officials questioned the timing of the letter, which came two weeks before the midterm elections and a week after McCarthy said the GOP could oppose more aid to Ukraine.
Jayapal released a statement Monday night “clarifying” the stance of the progressives outlined in the letter, stressing that they still supported Ukraine and Biden’s commitment to ensure Ukraine is represented in all discussions about his future.
“Let me be clear: we are united as democrats in our unequivocal commitment to support Ukraine in their fight for their democracy and freedom in the face of the illegal and disproportionate Russian invasion,” Jayapal said. “Diplomacy is an important tool that can save lives, but it is only one tool.”
Democrats were not notified that the letter would be issued Monday, including those who signed the letter over the summer, according to three congressional officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters. A person close to the progressive caucus, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations, said it was strange to publicly release a letter with only 30 signatures from the 220 Democrats in the House.
Many blamed Jayapal for the misstep, with several aides saying they believed it could affect her chances of winning a seat in the Democratic leadership. Jayapal has made preliminary appeals to her colleagues to show interest in running for a leadership position, leading some members to believe she is Representative Katherine M. Clark (D-Mass.), who is also a member of the progressive caucus. , would challenge , for a presumed number 2 spot in the lot.
Marianna Sotomayor contributed to this report.