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Ukraine War Shifts the Agenda in Congress, Empowering the Center

For Democrats, the shift in priorities has had a price. Taking his cues from his party’s environmental wing, Mr. Biden had hoped to move the United States away from fossil fuels, blocking new leases for oil and gas exploration on federal land, opening up large swaths of ocean and land to wind and solar development, and pushing an ambitious timetable to move the country to electric cars and trucks.

Now, the fossil fuel industry is ascendant. More mainstream Democrats are using the language of Republicans, talking about an “all of the above” energy strategy that includes renewable fuels and oil and gas. Natural gas is again spoken of as a “bridge” fuel to clean energy, not an enemy of the planet.

“Some of my colleagues are presenting a false choice,” said Representative Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, a leading voice of centrist Democrats. “You can be for alternative energy and energy independence with aggressive long-term goals, and be for fully tapping our domestic energy resources.”

In private gatherings of House Democrats, Mr. Malinowski said, a few lawmakers still speak up against the extraction of any fossil fuels, “but they’re not really a powerful voice in our meetings.”

Republicans have other course corrections to contend with. Conservatives like Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the senior Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, have signaled that they want to revive investigations of Hunter Biden and the lucrative seat he once held on the board of Burisma Holdings, a Ukrainian gas company. With such investigations would come accusations of rampant corruption in Ukraine and unsubstantiated accusations that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered with U.S. elections in 2016.

But Ukraine is not the political target it once was. In a September 2019 poll by YouGov, 36 percent of registered voters in the United States were not sure whether Ukraine was friendly or unfriendly. Only 41 percent called the nation friendly or an ally. In a new YouGov survey, 81 percent of American voters said Ukraine was either friendly or an ally, a number that rivals or surpasses those for longtime U.S. partners like France and Japan.

Ms. Jayapal warned that dredging up Burisma would allow Democrats to remind the nation that every Republican except Senator Mitt Romney of Utah voted to allow Mr. Trump to go unpunished for humiliating and strong-arming Mr. Zelensky for his personal political benefit. And Mr. Cole counseled against such an approach.

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