The United States will no longer send a presidential delegation to the Paralympic Games in Sochi on Friday, according to the White House.
As a consequence of Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine last week, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told National Journal that while the U.S. athletes will still participate, President Obama decided not to send official representatives to the opening ceremony.
The Winter Olympics may be over, but the competition with athletes with physical disabilities starts Friday. A boycott by U.S. officials is the latest in symbolic gestures against Russia.
The six-person U.S. delegation would have been led by Rep. Tammy Duckworth, a wounded veteran, and also included three administration officials, one of whom was Celeste Wallander, the senior director for Russia and Central Asia on the National Security Council.
“President Obama continues to strongly support all of the U.S. athletes who will participate in the Paralympics and wishes them great success in the Olympic competition,” Hayden said in an emailed statement.
This is the first time Russia is hosting the nine-day Paralympics, which will bring in 700 athletes from 44 nations.
U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron on Sunday already announced that British government officials would boycott the Paralympics because of Russia’s latest military action in Ukraine, saying it would be “wrong” to attend. The country’s athletes, however, will still compete.
The U.S. has a history of boycotting Olympic competitions in Russia. American officials and athletes, along with 64 other nations, did not attend the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow in the midst of the Cold War. The reason: a Soviet-led invasion of a sovereign country. In a familiar twist, the U.S. protested the Soviet Union’s war in Afghanistan, which ended up lasting nine years.
The Winter Olympics were already clouded in political controversy, especially with Russia’s involvement in the Ukrainian crisis toward the end of the Games.
What We're Following See More »
Facebook "outlined new measures it is taking to combat what it calls 'information operations' that go well beyond the phenomenon known as fake news" on Thursday. Facebook acknowledged that there are governments using its platform as a tool to launch propaganda information campaigns and "manipulate public opinion in other countries. ... Facebook suspended 30,000 accounts in France ahead of last Sunday’s first-round presidential election."
President Trump’s portrayal of an effort to funnel more Medicaid dollars to Puerto Rico as a "bailout" is complicating negotiations over a continuing resolution on the budget. "House Democrats are now requiring such assistance as a condition for supporting the continuing resolution," a position that the GOP leadership is amenable to. it should be included. "But Mr. Trump’s apparent skepticism aligns him with conservative House Republicans inclined to view its request as a bailout, leaving the deal a narrow path to passage in Congress."
Democrats in the House are threatening to shut down the government if Republicans expedite a vote on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, said Democratic House Whip Steny Hoyer Thursday. Lawmakers have introduced a one-week spending bill to give themselves an extra week to reach a long-term funding deal, which seemed poised to pass easily. However, the White House is pressuring House Republicans to take a vote on their Obamacare replacement Friday to give Trump a legislative victory, though it is still not clear that they have the necessary votes to pass the health care bill. This could go down to the wire.
Members of Congress are eyeing a one-week spending bill which would keep the government open past the Friday night deadline, giving lawmakers an extra week to iron out a long-term deal to fund the government. Without any action, the government would run out of funding starting at midnight Saturday. “I am optimistic that a final funding package will be completed soon," said Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., chairman of the House Appropriations Committee.