|Member of the|
U.S. House of Representatives
from New York
January 3, 2007
|Constituency||11th district (2007-2013)|
9th district (2013-present)
|Member of the New York City Council|
from the 40th district
January 1, 2002 - December 31, 2006
|Una S. T. Clarke|
Yvette Diane Clarke
November 21, 1964
Medgar Evers College
Yvette Diane Clarke (born November 21, 1964) is a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives representing New York's 9th congressional district. Clarke was first elected to Congress in 2006. From 2007 to 2013, her district was labeled the 11th until it was redrawn. Before entering Congress in 2007, Clarke was a member of the New York City Council representing the 40th council district in Brooklyn.
Clarke was born in Flatbush, Brooklyn, on November 21, 1964, to Lesley Clarke and former city councilwoman Una Clarke, both immigrants from Jamaica. She graduated from Edward R. Murrow High School and earned a scholarship to enroll at Oberlin College in Ohio, which she attended from 1982 to 1986. While studying at Oberlin, she spent a summer interning in the Washington, D.C. office of New York congressman Major Owens, where she told Roll Call that she worked on legislative issues involving Caribbean-American trade.
Before entering politics, Clarke worked as a childcare specialist and trained community residents to care for the children of working parents. Later, Clarke served as an assistant to State Senator Velmanette Montgomery and Assemblywoman Barbara Clark, both of Queens. Clarke also worked as director of business development for the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation and was the second director of the Bronx portion of the New York City Empowerment Zone.
Brooklyn's 40th council district elected Clarke to the New York City Council in 2001. She succeeded her mother, former City Council member Una S. T. Clarke, who held the seat for more than a decade, making theirs the first mother-to-daughter succession in city council.
She cosponsored City Council resolutions that opposed the war in Iraq, criticized the federal USA PATRIOT Act, and called for a national moratorium on the death penalty. She was a frequent critic of the Bush administration's policies, and opposed budget cuts by Bush and the Republican Congress on several programs addressing women's rights and poverty. She later voted against extending provisions of the Patriot Act after the election of President Barack Obama.
In April 2007, Clarke was the sole member of Congress to oppose a bill to rename the Ellis Island Library after British-born Bob Hope, saying in a statement, "Bob Hope is a great American and a fantastic human being, [but] I see the museum and all aspects of the island to be greater than any one human being."
On September 29, 2008, she voted in support of HR 3997, the Emergency Economic Stability Act of 2008. The act failed, 205-228. She wrote legislation written to improve the process of removing the names of individuals who believe they were wrongly identified as a threat when screened against the No Fly List used by the Transportation Security Administration, which passed 413-3 on February 3, 2009. In November 2009 she was one of 54 members of Congress who signed onto a controversial letter to President Obama, urging him to use diplomatic pressure to resolve the blockade affecting Gaza. On March 25, 2010, she introduced the International Cybercrime Reporting and Cooperation Act - H.R.4962.
Clarke supported the Prison Ship Martyrs' Monument Preservation Act (H.R. 1501; 113th Congress), a bill that would direct the Secretary of the Interior to study the suitability and feasibility of designating the Prison Ship Martyrs' Monument in Fort Greene Park in the New York City borough of Brooklyn as a unit of the National Park System (NPS). Clarke argued the bill was a good idea because "this monument commemorates not only the sacrifices of soldiers in the Revolutionary War who dedicated themselves to the cause of liberty, but a reminder that even in wartime we must protect basic human rights. These thousands of deaths were an atrocity that should never occur again."
On September 17, 2013, Clarke introduced the Homeland Security Cybersecurity Boots-on-the-Ground Act (H.R. 3107; 113th Congress), a bill that would require the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to undertake several actions designed to improve the readiness and capacity of DHS's cybersecurity workforce. DHS would also be required to create a strategy for recruiting and training additional cybersecurity employees.
Clarke has said she supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Some of her stances have subjected her to public criticism by constituents in her district, which is roughly 20% Jewish according to estimates from a 2010 Census. In 2010, Clarke signed onto two petitions urging Obama to pressure Israel to resolve the Gaza Blockade, which she later retracted. In 2009, she voted against H.R. 867, which sought to condemn the controversial Goldstone Report commissioned by the United Nations. In 2015 Clarke indicated she would vote for President Obama's JCPOA, known as the Iran nuclear deal, despite appeals from some of her Jewish constituents and local advocacy groups to vote against the deal. In explaining her decision, Clarke said in a statement, "Iran is on the verge of creating a nuclear bomb, right now. The JCPOA provides a pathway that holds great potential to forever change this reality." In 2015, Clarke attended Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu's speech before a joint session of Congress after initially expressing uncertainty.
Clarke has stated that she is pro-choice. She has earned high ratings from interest groups such as NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood for her votes against legislation that sought to place restrictions on abortion rights, including the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act of 2011, which would have prohibited federal funds from being used to cover abortions. Her ratings with pro-life organizations such as the National Right to Life Committee have been correspondingly low.
Clarke has consistently opposed legislation that seeks to reduce government spending and cut taxes, including voting against the Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act of 2012 which sought to extend tax cuts established during George W. Bush's administration through the end of 2013. Clarke received a 92% rating from the National Journal for being liberal on economic policy in 2011, while she received a low 15% rating from the National Taxpayers Union for her positions on tax and spending in 2011, and a 2% rating from the Citizens Against Government Waste in 2010.
Clarke has supported efforts to combat climate change and limit fossil fuel consumption. She has generally opposed legislation that gives priority to economic over conservation interests, such as the Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012 and the Conservation and Economic Growth Act of 2012. She has supported legislation that increases conservation efforts and regulation of the energy industry, such as the Offshore Drilling Regulations and Other Energy Law Amendments Act of 2010. Clarke received 100 percent ratings from Environment America, the League of Conservation Voters, and the Sierra Club, the latter on her clean water positions, in 2011 while she received a low rating of 14% over the period 2008-11 from the Global Exchange for her loyalty to the finance, insurance, and real estate lobbies. She was strongly critical of the Trump administration's decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement.
Clarke has called for immigration reform that would create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the United States and direct resources away from enforcement. In 2010, she voted for the DREAM Act which passed the House but was blocked in the Senate. Clarke has voted against legislative proposals to constrain immigration. She praised the Obama administration's DACA program and condemned the Trump administration's termination of the program, calling the move "cruel and vindictive." She has also called for extending the Temporary Protected Status that was granted to Haitian immigrants seeking refuge after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. She has also called for the abolition of ICE.
On April 10, 2019, Clarke and Senators Ron Wyden and Cory Booker introduced the Algorithmic Accountability Act of 2019, legislation granting additional powers to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in addition to forcing companies to study whether race, gender or other biases influence their technology.
On the Colbert Report, in its "Better Know a District" segment in early September 2012, when Stephen Colbert asked Clarke what she'd have changed back in 1898 (the year Brooklyn merged with New York City) if she could go back in time, Clarke answered the abolition of slavery. Colbert replied, "Slavery...Really? I didn't realize there was slavery in Brooklyn in 1898". (Slavery was abolished in New York state in 1827.) Clarke immediately followed up with, "I'm pretty sure there was" stating the Dutch owned slaves in New York in 1898. The next day, Clarke was unavailable for comment, and her media representative stated the statements were meant in humor.
Clarke endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016 and cast a vote for her as a super delegate at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. During Clinton's 2016 campaign, Clarke appeared with Clinton at an event in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, at Medgar Evers College.
In 2004, Clarke, then still a member of the New York City Council, made her first run for Congress for the 11th district against incumbent Major Owens, for whom she had interned in college. Clarke's run followed an unsuccessful bid by her mother in 2000 against Owens for the same seat. Clarke lost the 2004 Democratic primary against Owens, who won 45.4% of the vote to her 28.9% in a multi-candidate race. Following the 2004 election, Owens indicated his desire to retire from Congress and declined to seek reelection, after which Clarke announced her intention to run again in 2006. Owens later called Clarke and her mother's successive political campaigns against him "[a] stab in the back."
In May 2006, another Caribbean-American candidate, Assemblyman N. Nick Perry, withdrew from the race to succeed Congressman Major Owens, leading some observers to contend that Clarke's chances for winning the race would improve now that another candidate from the same community was no longer competing.
In August 2006, Crain's New York Business and the Daily News reported that Clarke's Oberlin transcripts indicated that she did not graduate, contrary to what was claimed in her campaign literature. Clarke initially said she thought she had earned sufficient credits to graduate from Oberlin, and then later said she had completed her degree by attending courses at Medgar Evers College. In 2011, Clarke suggested that she planned to finish her degree at Oberlin by completing independent academic projects.
On September 12, 2006, Clarke won the Democratic nomination with a plurality, 31.20%, of the vote in a four-person primary, defeating then-councilman David Yassky, State Senator Carl Andrews, and Major Owens's son, Christopher Owens. In the general election on November 7, Clarke was elected to the House of Representatives with 89% of the vote against Republican Stephen Finger.
Clarke was reelected on November 4, 2008 by a large margin.
Clarke was reelected on November 2, 2010 by a large margin.
Clarke was challenged in the Democratic primaries by Sylvia Kinard, an attorney and ex-wife of former New York City Comptroller and mayoral candidate Bill Thompson. Clarke defeated Kinard with 88.3% of the vote. She had $50,000 in her campaign account before the June primary. In the November general election, Clarke defeated Republican Daniel Cavanagh.
Clarke was reelected with 89.5% of the vote in November 2014, defeating repeat-challenger Daniel Cavanagh in the general election.
Clarke ran unopposed in the primaries and defeated Alan Bellone in the November general election with 92.4% of the vote.
Una S. T. Clarke
| Member of the New York City Council
from the 40th district
|U.S. House of Representatives|
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 11th congressional district
| Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New York's 9th congressional district
|U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
| United States Representatives by seniority