A group of 30 House Democrats, part of the House Progressive Caucus, signed the letter, which was dated on Monday, praising the administration’s continued support of Ukraine’s self-defense but arguing that it must be combined with “vigorous diplomatic efforts in support of a negotiated settlement and ceasefire” through “direct talks with Russia.”
“The risk of nuclear weapons being used has been estimated to be higher now than at any time since the height of the Cold War,” the letter reads. “Given the catastrophic possibilities of nuclear escalation and miscalculation, which only increase the longer this war continues, we agree with your goal of avoiding directly military conflict as an overriding national security policy.”
However, shortly after the letter was published, the House Progressive Caucus retracted it, blaming it on congressional staff.
“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,” Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., said in a statement.
“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,” Jayapal scrambled.
“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.”
Other Democrats who signed the letter also tried to distance themselves from it.
Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wisc., claimed the situation in Ukraine has changed since he signed onto the letter, calling its release “bad timing.”
“First, this was written in July & I have no idea why it went out now,” he said. “Second, it was trying to get to a cease-fire & diplomacy as others were banging war drums, not criticizing Biden.”
Rep. Sara Jacobs, D-Calif., another signature, agreed, saying she “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,” she said.