Prayer and an ovation in Iowa legislature, in support of Ukraine

DES MOINES — Tax policy dominated yesterday’s debate in the Iowa legislature, but the dire situation in Ukraine was the subject of a fiery prayer in the Senate and the House ended its day with a standing ovation for the people of Ukraine.

Senator Tom Shipley of Nodaway mentioned Russia’s invasion right before he led the opening prayer in the Senate.

“Lord, we ask you to be with the people of Ukraine and stop the Godless tyrant that will bring tragedy and grief to them. These people have suffered at the hands of evil over time and they deserve their lives to be lived in peace,” Shipley prayed. “Help them attain that for their families that are loved, just like we love ours.”

Thursday afternoon, just after voting on the tax bill, senators from both parties gave brief speeches in support of the people and the government of Ukraine. Thursday night, after a partisan debate over the tax bill, members of the House shared a moment of unity.

“This idea of freedom and democracy is a controversial subject and concept in other parts of the world. It’s very controversial to Putin,” said Representative Todd Prichard of Charles City, who delivered a brief speech in the House.

Prichard, a member of the Army Reserve, spoke about meeting soldiers from Ukraine during a tour of duty in Europe five years ago.

“When you learn what motivates them and why they want to be a part of what we, in America, represent — it’s about freedom,” Prichard said, “and it’s about democracy.”

After voting is over, most House members typically exit the Capitol, but not last night. Many stood as Prichard spoke, suggesting America would be called upon, again, to be the world’s Arsenal of Democracy.

“A tyrant, who leads Russia, decided that he would invade his neighboring country. This is an act of naked aggression, without justification,” Prichard said. “It’s a war of choice.”

Prichard asked his colleagues to think about Ukraine as they made their way home. Applause is allowed in a limited number of circumstances in the House, but as Prichard concluded with that request, members of the House applauded in unison.