A long-delayed foreign aid package passed the house this weekend, largely due to a bipartisan vote by Democratic lawmakers. Now it’s headed to the Senate. Massachusetts Congresswoman and House Minority Whip Katherine Clark joined co-host Paris Alston on Morning Edition to discuss the package. This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Paris Alston: So tell us, what was in this aid package for folks who may not be familiar? And why did it take so long to get it through?

Katherine Clark: It was a package that was filed by President Biden months ago, back in the fall, to make sure that we are supporting our allies in Ukraine, in the Indo-Pacific, Israel and [humanitarian aid.] And why it took so long to get to the House floor is because the House GOP has been consumed with their infighting, their own civil war, instead of looking out towards the needs of America for our own national security that we promote when we stand with our allies like Ukraine in a time where they need us to live up to the promises that we've made to them.

Alston: You posted over the weekend on the platform X, that this package is imperfect. Why is that?

Clark: Any package that is addressing such complex areas, such as how we respond in a time of war, are we meeting the needs of civilians who are trapped in war — is going to be imperfect. This was a large bill. There were compromises that had to be made to get the bill to the floor with the House GOP. But there were some themes that we know are true. And this is a bill that was important for American security. We have learned through history that we have to stand up to figures like Vladimir Putin, that appeasement does not bring peace. And that is what we are seeing in Ukraine. And we know that Ukraine is holding on, but barely, and now is the time to act. So we were willing to make some compromises to get this bill across the finish line with the extremists who have a stranglehold on the House GOP.

Alston: I want to talk more about that, Congresswoman, House Speaker Mike Johnson brought this package to the chamber floor despite not having the support of his party. That includes some of those extremists that you are referencing. What does that say about the speaker's leadership to you in this moment?

Clark: Well, here's the interesting thing about the vote. We have always told Speaker Johnson that if the Ukraine funding, and it was the Ukraine funding and the humanitarian aid that were the objections of the House Republicans, and we said with the humanitarian aid — that is a red line. If this package does not include aid to people in Gaza that we can use to help people in Sudan, in Chad, where famine is spreading — we will not pass this bill. You won't have Democratic votes. But we always said that if you bring Ukraine funding to the floor, we will have an overwhelming Republican vote. And you saw it, but it took him months to be able to stand up to the Marjorie Taylor Greenes and the most extreme parts of his caucus to get this funding. We hope it's not too late, but we are optimistic that we can act quickly to get this passed through the Senate and to President Biden's desk.

Alston: Now, one consequence of that is that Speaker Johnson, his job is in jeopardy now, Congresswoman, with conservative House members threatening to oust him, including folks like Marjorie Taylor Greene. And at the same time, he is anti-abortion. He stands in opposition to where the Democrats are on immigration policy. So it opens this question of what conversations Democratic leadership is having when it comes to saving his speakership. And we know that, from just looking at former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, that it's not unspeakable for him to be ousted. So would you vote to save his job if it came down to it?

Clark: We're going to take this one step at a time, and let's just pull back for a second and look at the issues we are not working on. As the Republicans continue to roil and fight within their own party, we have a housing crisis in Massachusetts, and we have some good solutions available, but they cannot get votes to the floor. They are not moving out of committee because of the obstruction we're seeing across the aisle. I would love to see us move forward on child care, making it more affordable and accessible. That issue we cannot work on because of the infighting. So we are going to look, if they proceed with the motion to vacate, what is the best way to move forward and put the American people's voices back into the agenda. And we will make that decision when it comes before us as a caucus.

Alston: I hear what you're saying, Congresswoman. But these things can move very quickly. And I would imagine that Democratic leadership in the House is already having some conversations about foresight and how to plan ahead. What are those conversations looking like?

Clark: Well, I can tell you that we have, since the 15 rounds of voting that it took for Kevin McCarthy to win the speakership a year ago in January, we have [had] our hands out in bipartisanship to the Republicans saying, let's work on a rules package that makes sure the House is working and that the House's focus is on the American people. And that has been so far rejected by GOP leadership in the House. So our hand remains extended. We will take this as it comes, and we can make decisions on this quickly as need be. But again, our focus is people over the politics and the civil war that is ensnaring and obstructing the American people's voices in the House has to come to an end.

Alston: Before we let you go, Congresswoman, you're back in the state after, obviously, what was an eventful weekend in Washington to celebrate a big investment in Woburn on clean water. Tell us about that.

Clark: Yes. We will be so delighted on Earth Day to be at the Horn Pond in Woburn, where I secured an almost $1 million to help them build their treatment plant to remove the PFAS, forever chemicals, from their drinking water. So this is a good day to celebrate the investments that our Democratic delegation have been able to make back into our communities here. And this is certainly one to celebrate on Earth Day.


Original story HERE