Progressives in Congress request meeting with Biden to demand Gaza ceasefire

Democrats say Michigan primary election results show President must change course on support for Israel

Progressive Democrats in the House of Representatives say the need for a ceasefire in Gaza is urgent. Ellie Sennett / The National
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Progressive Democratic politicians in Washington on Thursday announced they are seeking a meeting with US President Joe Biden to demand a ceasefire in Gaza.

“We want to hear directly from President Biden,” said Cori Bush, who co-wrote a letter to Mr Biden with Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American congresswoman.

“The majority of voters in this country want a ceasefire … people in this country do not want to be complicit in the atrocities that are happening in Gaza."

The congressional leaders cited a recent poll from Data For Progress that found 77 per cent of Democrats, 69 per cent of Independents and 56 per cent of Republicans wanted "a permanent ceasefire and a de-escalation of violence in Gaza".

Ms Bush added that she and Ms Tlaib were sending the letter to underscore “the urgency of this growing catastrophe”, with an expected Israeli offensive looming over Rafah, the last area of relative safety for Palestinians in Gaza.

Meanwhile at the White House, Mr Biden warned of additional urgency and complications in continuing ceasefire negotiations after Israel was accused of killing scores of hungry Palestinians waiting for food aid.

“We’re checking that out right now; there are two competing versions of what happened. I don’t have an answer yet,” the President said.

The letter from progressive Democrats also follows party voters in Ms Tlaib's state of Michigan casting more than 100,000 protest votes against Mr Biden in Tuesday’s primary election.

He still won the crucial swing state but the “uncommitted” votes against him are could spell trouble in November’s presidential election.

Democratic Representative Ayanna Pressley, who broke down in tears at the press conference over the situation in Gaza, said the Michigan results “made it plain voters are not happy with the United States’ handling of the war in Gaza, and President Biden must change course".

“From Massachusetts to Michigan and all the way to the Middle East, our destinies are tied and our shared humanity is on the line,” Ms Pressley said.

“In case the White House needed any more convincing, I’ll remind them not only is a ceasefire good policy, it is good politics … a ceasefire is the mandate.”

Ms Tlaib has supported the "uncommitted" movement, but when pressed on how that sentiment would translate to the general election, in which Mr Biden is presumed to face off once again against Donald Trump, she emphasised that the President must earn the votes of the pro-ceasefire voting bloc.

“I am incredibly, incredibly scared of a second term for Trump,” she said.

“Our democracy is at stake and I'm asking the President – and I think many of us are saying – change course, because you're threatening literally our democracy. Please."

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Updated: February 29, 2024, 7:03 PM