In a departure from a largely do-nothing Congress, we may have real votes and many difficult choices to make in the coming weeks. During this time, with respect to Ukraine, I ask my colleagues to remember our collective history, remember who we serve, and be brave.

There is a buzz in the nation and Washington D.C. that we should no longer continue to support the Ukrainians in their battle against Putin’s unlawful invasion. Many of my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, say that they hear from their communities and constituents that we should send our resources elsewhere: the southwestern border, Israel, to support childcare or end homelessness, to name a few. The list of our nation’s needs is indeed long and worthy.

I would argue two things, however: 1) it is the responsibility of the elected Members of Congress not simply to hear and reflect in Washington what our constituents might be feeling and saying but also to bring home from Washington and the world what our role as a nation should be, and 2) sometimes it also is a Representative’s fiduciary, rather than elective, job to vote based on the needs of the nation as a whole and over the long term, and it is our job to help our community understand why we voted the way we did.

Last week, I traveled to Lithuania as a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. I was also there because my home state of Pennsylvania’s Army National Guard partners with Lithuania for their State Partnership Program. The Pennsylvania Guard has worked with Lithuania for over 30 years; we specifically help them with cyber security. In addition, many of our nation’s active duty troops from all over the United States are based in Lithuania as part of our collective forward line of defense of the NATO alliance.

Rep. Chrissy Houlahan meets with U.S. Troops in Lithuania

Lithuania borders Russia and Belarus. Belarus has proven itself to be nothing more than a puppet state of Russia throughout the war in Ukraine; recently, one might recall it housed and harbored the Russian merciless mercenary Wagner Group.

While in Lithuania, I had the chance to meet with the Assistant Minister of Defense. While speaking with him, he implored me to bring an urgent message back home: we must continue to help Ukraine defend itself. He reminded me that Lithuania and many, many more nations have spent upwards of 2.75 percent of their GDP on their defense and the defense of Ukraine, materially surpassing our commitment here in the U.S. Recall at one point that former President Trump maligned the members of NATO for their supposed lack of commitment.

This, indeed, is no longer the case.

Over the past couple of years, the Biden Administration has led a large international coalition to support Ukraine robustly, and the participation of dozens of nations has been historic in scale and scope. In fact, the United States is not even ranked in the top ten in terms of our overall contribution by GDP to defense and Ukraine support. NATO and many non-NATO nations are doing their part, and we must continue to do ours.

I also had the chance to meet with many of our troops in Lithuania. They are stationed very close to the border of Belarus — thousands of miles from home — in cold and challenging conditions. It is not lost on them that they are on the frontline. I was struck by their youth, their eagerness and patriotism, and their commitment to the people of Lithuania and NATO. I was also struck by their exposure and the fact that they were in literal harm’s way should the war in Ukraine go sideways.

Without our continued support to Ukraine, we are dangerously close to this, ultimately evolving into a war that requires our troops to be pulled in. If we allow Ukraine to fall to Russia, it is Putin’s expressed and stated purpose to continue onward to places like Lithuania. We have a commitment through Article 5 that if Lithuania or any other NATO nation is attacked, it is an attack on us all. And we will be required to respond.

So, as a U.S. House Representative, I know fully that there are many pulls on my community, Commonwealth, and country that deserve our attention. But I also know it is my responsibility to take hard and unpopular stands when I know it’s the right thing to do — in this case, to passionately advocate and vote for continued support for Ukraine. Such actions and support show our allies we are good for our word and here to stay. Actions such as these keep our young men and women in uniform out of harm’s way. And this is an effective use of our resources because it helps decimate Russia’s military and capabilities without depleting our own.

I genuinely believe that my colleagues — both Republicans and Democrats — fully know this, too. We must not put ourselves in a position to regret not supporting Ukraine when the war has come to us. The loss will become more severe, and I fear the price will be much more expensive in many ways. So, I ask my colleagues once again: remember our history, remember who we serve, and be brave.