Caribbean American Democratic Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke says she voted in support of omnibus legislation to fund the US government and provide US$13.6 billion in aid to Ukraine.
In clearing the first major US federal spending legislation of President Joe Biden’s administration, the US Congress approved on Thursday a US$1.5 trillion package, with significant increases for domestic and national security programs, including US$13.6 billion in emergency aid for Ukraine in its valiant fight against Russia’s invasion.
President Biden is expected to quickly sign the bill into law.
“We are living through challenging, very treacherous times,” Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, told Caribbean Life on Thursday in her first major public view on the Ukraine war. “In the past couple of weeks, we have witnessed a violent and murderous assault on the people of Ukraine, ever since the Russian military invaded their country on the orders of the callous authoritarian, Vladimir Putin. The world has once again witnessed the devastating loss of life and human suffering that never fails to follow armed aggression.
“As the Congressional representative of the people of the 9th District of New York, home to many Ukrainian-Americans, I wish to extend my heartfelt condolences to those who have lost loved ones and who have been impacted by the terror that has been unleashed upon the people of Ukraine,” added Clarke, whose Brooklyn district is overwhelmingly Caribbean. “My prayers are with the proud, resilient and transcendently brave people of Ukraine, as they contend with the unimaginable and relentless tragedies taking place within the borders of their homeland.
“To the Ukrainian people: Your strength and resolve in the face of this unprovoked attack on your civil society serves both as a shining example for the world to follow in pursuit of freedom and a warning to Mr. Putin and despots like him, that those sworn to defend democracy will not meekly surrender their precious freedoms but will resist and fight until the end,” continued the congresswoman.
“History has taught us that whenever a sovereign, democratic nation like Ukraine faces an existential threat from deranged madmen hellbent on war and suffering, America faces a difficult, yet crucial decision: to either sit idly by as innocent men, women and children are murdered, or to pursue every avenue available to best defend freedom and democracy, and that brings about a stable and lasting peace,” said Clarke, stating that, like so many other Americans, she was “compelled to fight for freedom.”
She said that the threat of escalating global tensions with Russia is “very real and very grave,” warning, however, that America “must not and cannot inadvertently find itself in direct armed conflict with Vladimir Putin.”
“That being said, we must always remain engaged in the ceaseless struggle for freedom and democracy whenever these sacred ideals are attacked, at home and abroad,” Clarke said. “Our choice today is not a choice between inaction and all-out war. I believe that there are meaningful measures the United States can and should take to support the Ukrainian people without providing Russia cause to plunge the world into another world war.”
She said she voted in support of crucial omnibus legislation that included increases in defense spending and critical aid for Ukraine for that very reason.
“Throughout my tenure in Congress, I have historically withheld my support from measures that would increase our nation’s defense spending while so many underfunded priorities and underserved communities remain at home,” Clarke said. “While I remain committed to increased investments in non-defense spending, given this legislation’s critical inclusion of aid provisions for the Ukrainian people and bans on Russian energy imports, as well as the current threats to democracy across the world, my decision became all too clear.”
She said this legislation is in the best interests of all Americans, “both now and in the future,” adding that she recognizes that “the value of this bill towards supporting our Ukrainian allies and putting America on a path to a future where we no longer rely on dictators for our energy cannot be overstated.
“We must boldly lead, both globally and domestically in this moment,” the congresswoman said. “Our future depends on it.
“Though we remain hopeful for an expedited, peaceful resolution to this crisis, please know that the burden felt by our families and communities today will not be in vain, as we pursue a more democratic, more humane future globally,” Clarke continued. “It is a difficult cause, but one we must take up all the same – for the world, for the United States of America and for our future.”
New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the US Senate Majority Leader, described the measure as “the strongest, boldest and most significant government funding package we’ve seen in a very long time.”
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said on Thursday that the bipartisan funding bill “proves once more that members of both parties can come together to deliver results for the American people.”
She said the legislation will reduce costs for families and businesses, support economic recovery and “advance American leadership abroad.”
“With these resources, we will be able to deliver historic support for the Ukrainian people, as they defend their country and democracy,” Psaki said.