On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate voted to ratify Sweden and Finland’s membership in the NATO military alliance.
The legislative body voted overwhelmingly to approve a treaty to expand NATO to include the two countries, with bipartisan support for the significant and historic expansion of the pact not seen in decades in a 95-1 vote.
According to reports, Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri was the only Senator to vote against the ratification.
Hawley argued that the United States should focus on containing China instead of expanding NATO.
“We cannot strengthen our deterrent posture in the Pacific if we’re sending more forces and resources to Europe to defend new allies. That’s the bottom line,” Hawley said on the floor before the vote.
I welcome the Senate’s ratification of @NATO membership for Finland and Sweden. Finland and Sweden are longtime, stalwart partners, and I look forward to a quick and complete ratification by other NATO members as a commitment to Transatlantic security.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) August 3, 2022
More details of this report from ‘The Hill’:
The Senate on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to approve a resolution ratifying Sweden’s and Finland’s accession to the NATO, sending another signal that Congress remains unified in opposing Russian aggression toward Ukraine and Europe.
The Senate voted 95 to 1 to approve the resolution, with every member of the Democratic caucus and most Republicans voting in support. It ratifies protocols of accession that NATO allies signed on July 5.
The resolution was a top priority of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who visited Sweden and Finland in May as part of a congressional delegation that also met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
McConnell insisted the Senate ratify Sweden’s and Finland’s NATO membership before leaving for the monthlong August recess.
“There is just no question that admitting these robust democratic countries with modern economies and capable, interoperable militaries will only strengthen the most successful military alliance in human history,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.
McConnell noted that Sweden and Finland already participate in NATO- and American-led missions and that Finland already meets NATO’s target that members spend at least 2 percent of their national gross domestic product on defense.
The Senate has approved a resolution supporting Finland and Sweden joining NATO — a crucial step for the two countries to join the 30-member alliance. https://t.co/I7HwnWnB03
— ABC News (@ABC) August 4, 2022
NEW: The Senate has approved Finland and Sweden’s membership in NATO by a vote of 95-1-1.
Rand Paul (R) voted PRESENT.
Josh Hawley (R) voted NO.
— Brian Tyler Cohen (@briantylercohen) August 3, 2022
ABC News dropped some details:
Finland and Sweden announced their decision to formally join NATO within days of each other in May, ending long-held positions of neutrality in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. They simultaneously submitted their applications on May 18.
All 30 NATO members must ratify the accession of the two countries. Seven countries remain.
During Wednesday’s vote, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., took a veiled swipe at Paul and Hawley in a floor speech, saying, “Their accession will make NATO stronger and America more secure. If any senator is looking for a defensible excuse to vote no, I wish them good luck.”
Hawley aligned himself with former President Donald Trump, saying the U.S. could devote more funds and firepower to NATO “or do what we need to do to deter Asia and China. We cannot do both.”
Each member government in NATO must give its approval for any new member to join. The process ran into unexpected trouble when Turkey raised concerns over adding Sweden and Finland, accusing the two of being soft on banned Turkish Kurdish exile groups.
Turkey’s objections still threaten the two countries’ membership.