Far-left Democrats break with their anti-war allies to back Ukraine war: ‘It’s politics’

Capitol Hill’s dove’s nest has been rocked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, leaving the anti-war movement few allies as Congress envisions a new round of deadly aid to Kyiv.

Lawmakers have overwhelmingly approved two separate rounds of combined military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine since war broke out in February, with few objections. The loudest dissent came from Republicans – long viewed as enemies of the badge-wearing pacifists.

“We were quite amazed that not a single Democrat voted against Ukraine’s $40 billion bill, about half of which was guns. No one from the Squad, no one from the Progressive Caucus,” said Medea Benjamin, co-founder of anti-war feminist group Code Pink.

“I hate to say this, but it’s politics,” she said. “If this happened under Trump, we would see a lot of progressive Democrats calling for negotiations and a truce.”

Anti-war activists fear they have lost their sounding board among Democratic lawmakers as the conflict shows no sign of abating.

“Congress must not relinquish its oversight responsibilities,” said Marcy Winograd, co-chair of the foreign policy arm of the advocacy group Progressive Democrats of America. “The stakes are too high: more death and destruction, climate devastation, famine in the Middle East and Africa, economic ruin with rising inflation, and the risk of nuclear war.”

The White House is pressing Congress for a third round of military and economic aid totaling $12 billion, which Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, plans to include in a stopgap bill to keep the federal government safe past June 30 to keep funded beyond September .

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The latest round, which is likely to face little opposition in Congress, adds billions more that anti-war activists say have received little scrutiny from lawmakers.

“If the people of this country knew that before the end of the year Congress and the White House were sending an estimated $40 billion worth of military aid to a protracted war, they would be knocking on their representatives’ doors to remind them of urgent needs at home,” said Ms. Winograd.

In March, just weeks after war broke out, Congress sent Ukraine a $13.6 billion emergency aid package, about half of which was military aid, which came with a $1.5 trillion spending bill thrown into a pot.

In May, lawmakers got a standalone vote to send another $40 billion package, including $11 billion worth of arms and military equipment to Ukraine and about $9 billion to the Pentagon replenishment of his arms stocks.

The bill was unanimously supported by Democrats in both houses. Eleven Republicans in the Senate and 57 Republicans in the House of Representatives voted against the package. Many of the opponents expressed concerns about US spending on the war amid domestic economic uncertainty.

Rep. Barbara Lee’s votes for sending more weapons to the front lines stood out among anti-war activists.

The California Democrat and member of the House Progressive Caucus cast the sole vote against the 2001 authorization to use military force in Afghanistan days after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack.

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Ms Lee said in March that she voted for Ukraine’s first aid to “show solidarity with Ukrainians suffering from Russian aggression”. After the vote, she also urged “diplomacy and de-escalation” at the “dangerous and unpredictable moment.”

In May, Ms. Lee voted in favor of the second aid package, urging her colleagues to “respond to and stand by the remarkable strength and resilience of the Ukrainian people.”

Ms. Lee did not respond to a request for comment on this report.

Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Chair of the House Progressive Caucus, said that despite Democrats unanimous support for sending military aid to Ukraine, progressives continue to push for diplomacy.

“It’s not our job to help Ukraine have all the weapons it needs on the battlefield, our real role is to use our power as the United States to come to a negotiated settlement,” she said Washington Times. “I think people sometimes feel the pressure of the horrors of what’s happening in Ukraine and the horrors of what Russia has done in Ukraine, and their reaction is, ‘Let’s give them more guns.’ But we have a bigger role to play here.”

She said she had not yet decided how she would vote on the next package.

“I have reservations about making really clear what our plan is for some kind of diplomatic negotiations,” she said.

President Biden has turned to Kyiv to help define his victory. In the meantime, Mr. Biden is counting on the Democrats in Congress to have steadfast support for the war.

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Ukrainian officials have set a high bar, calling for the complete expulsion of Russian troops from their territory, including from the Crimea peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014, and from the Donbass region, which has remained in a stalemate ever since.

Neither side seems ready to come to the table any time soon.

Russia has suffered heavy territorial losses in recent weeks from Ukraine’s aggressive counteroffensive, made possible by a flood of military aid from the West.

In response, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the mobilization of 300,000 military reservists in a major escalation of the war.

During a rare televised address, Mr Putin accused Ukraine of undermining Russia’s independence and accused the West of “trying to blackmail us with nuclear weapons”.

He warned that Russia will use all means at its disposal, adding that his threats are not a “bluff”.

Ms Benjamin fears the situation is getting out of hand and the US is making it worse.

“There is a possibility of nuclear war,” she said. “There is also inflation, the price of petrol, the price people pay for food, the economic hardship that people in Europe will face this winter. … All of this should make the leaders of Western countries stand up and say we must end this war.”

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