Congressional Democrats are pushing back against a letter submitted by 30 of their colleagues that called on President Joe Biden to directly negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin a ceasefire in the Ukraine invasion.
Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) urged Biden to “seriously explore all possible avenues” to avoid nuclear war, while “seek[ing] a rapid end to the conflict and reiterat[ing] this goal as America’s chief priority.”
“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,” they wrote.
Several fellow House Democrats criticized the letter, and two members later walked back their support. The Ukrainian government has expressed opposition to a deal accompanied by land cession, while Putin would likely end the invasion only if Ukraine gives up the eastern Donbass region.
Democratic Massachusetts Rep. Jake Auchincloss blasted the letter as an “olive branch to a war criminal,” saying that Congress should tighten sanctions against Russia. (RELATED: Russia Sanctioned 398 Members Of Congress. Here’s How They Responded)
“The way to end a war? Win it quickly. How is it won quickly? By giving Ukraine the weapons to defeat Russia,” CPC member Ruben Gallego of Arizona added.
The way to end a war? Win it quickly.
How is it won quickly? By giving Ukraine the weapons to defeat Russia. https://t.co/EJEwif3VJj
— Ruben Gallego (@RepRubenGallego) October 24, 2022
At least three signatories later walked back their support, with Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan revealing that the letter was originally drafted in July but not submitted to Biden.
“I have no idea why it went out now. Bad timing. Second, it was trying to get to a cease-fire & diplomacy as others were banging war drums, not criticizing Biden. Third, I’ve supported the efforts & will continue. Over analyzed by some,” he tweeted.
California Rep. Mark Takano appeared to repudiate a key portion of the letter, saying that “only Ukrainians have a right to determine the terms by which this war ends.”
“I wouldn’t sign it today,” California Rep. Sara Jacobs added.
The letter demonstrates further cracks in Congress’ mostly bipartisan support for Ukrainian military aid. Fifty-seven GOP representatives and eleven senators voted against a funding package in May, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told Punchbowl News that Republicans are “not going to write a blank check to Ukraine” if they take back the lower chamber.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell pushed back, urging elected officials “across the globe [to] be quicker and more proactive to get Ukraine the aid they need.”