House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries calls on Republicans to release funding for Haiti

Jeffries says “America needs to stand with the people of Haiti.”

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries on Thursday demanded that Republican lawmakers immediately back the release of millions of dollars in funding for Haiti as the Caribbean nation is beset by political violence and instability.

“America needs to stand with the people of Haiti,” Jeffries, a Brooklyn Democrat, told theGrio during his weekly presser. Jeffries said the money should have been released on Wednesday.

Haiti has seen a rise in violence, deaths and kidnappings since late February as armed gangs members staged attacks to take control over large swathes of the nation and raided prisons, freeing more than 4,000 inmates. The attacks targeted the country’s airports, police stations and largest port, disrupting food supplies and destabilizing life for Haitians.

U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., theGrio.com
Democratic Leader Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) speaks during a news conference on January 5, 2023 in Washington, DC. The House of Representatives will continue to try to elect the next Speaker after Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) failed to earn more than 218 votes on six ballots over two days, the first time in 100 years that the Speaker was not elected on the first ballot. (Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images) Credit: Nathan Howard/Getty Images

Prime Minister Ariel Henry, who has lobbied for a United Nations-backed deployment of Kenyan police officers, remains locked out of Haiti and faces pressure to resign, according to the Associated Press.

Democrats have urged House Speaker Mike Johnson to speak with Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, about the release of $40 million in security aid to address the unrest. McCaul chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Yet, McCaul and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, say they need more details before releasing the funds.

Last month, the Biden-Harris administration sent McCaul and Risch their plans to assist Haiti, however neither Republican has changed their stance on releasing the funds.

“This is what the Republican party does,” Rep. Jamaal Bowman, D-N.Y., told theGrio on Thursday. “They don’t want to send funding where it needs to go, especially when they’re Black or brown countries … Haiti needs funding.”

Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., said Haiti “is experiencing some of the most horrific times in our modern, civil society.”

Haiti has seen an increase in unrest as gangs seeking political power have grown frustrated with the postponement of elections following the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse in 2021.

“We cannot continue to sit on the sidelines,” Clarke said.

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Despite Republican-led efforts to block aid to Haiti, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said at a White House press briefing on Tuesday that the administration is “consulting with Congress” to secure funding.

“It is critical to get a multinational security force led by the Kenyans on the ground in Haiti as soon as possible,” Sullivan said.

The United States on Friday welcomed the establishment of Haiti’s Transitional Presidential Council, which is expected to quell the violence by deploying the Multinational Security Support mission led by Kenya and ensuring that there is a plan in place for fair elections.

“Much work lies ahead, and the United States remains committed to supporting the people of Haiti,” U.S. Department of State spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement.

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