Fewer than one-sixth of congressional Dems calling for cease-fire

All but nine of the cease-fire supporters are members of the progressive caucus, and nearly half signed onto a quickly retracted letter last year calling for a ceasefire in Ukraine

Celal Gunes/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON D.C., UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 24: United States Capitol building is seen under construction in Washington D.C., United States on September 24, 2023.

Fewer than one-sixth of Democratic lawmakers (43 of 265) are calling for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas — a roster that’s overwhelmingly made up of members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and that overlaps with those with the most left-wing views on foreign policy.

All but one of the cease-fire supporters represent safely Democratic districts. Rep. Gabe Vasquez (D-NM) is the only cease-fire supporter representing a swing district. All but nine of the cease-fire supporters are members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus — which has more than 100 members in total.

There’s also considerable overlap between the cease-fire supporters and Democrats who signed onto a botched Progressive Caucus letter last year calling for a cease-fire between Ukraine and Russia, which was retracted amid a wave of Democratic backlash. Nearly half of those supporting a cease-fire in Gaza (19) also wanted to put pressure on Ukraine in the middle of the war.

Nine of the cease-fire supporters — nearly a quarter — were elected in 2022. Among those, Rep. Robert Garcia (D-CA) stands out, given that he was endorsed by pro-Israel groups in his 2022 primary over another candidate viewed as more critical of Israel, and AIPAC’s United Democracy Project super PAC spent $500,000 opposing his opponent. Garcia has voted with the left on multiple Middle East policy issues recently.

Only two senators — Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) — support a cease fire, though half of Senate Democrats have raised broader concerns about Israel’s operations in Gaza.

Notably, there is not uniformity in the specific messages among lawmakers calling for a cease-fire. Some have conditioned calls for a cease-fire on Hamas’ release of all of its hostages. Some have also said a cease-fire needs to be accompanied by the disarmament of Hamas and its removal from governance in Gaza. Most have cited the growing civilian death toll and worsening humanitarian situation in Gaza.

With a deal reached for the release of some Israeli hostages in exchange for a four-day pause in the fighting, one key indicator going forward will be whether the number of lawmakers calling for Israel to indefinitely extend the pause in fighting will grow.

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