The Senate of the United States of America has voted overwhelmingly to ratify Sweden and Finland’s membership in the NATO alliance, another step toward expanding the US-led military bloc after its 30 members formally committed to the move.
Wednesday’s 95-1 vote — for the candidacy of two Western European nations that, until Russia’s war against Ukraine, had long avoided military alliances — took a crucial step toward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and its 73-year-old pact of mutual defense among the United States and democratic allies in Europe.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer invited ambassadors of the two nations to the chamber gallery to witness the vote.
Missouri Republican Josh Hawley was the sole senator to vote against ratification, arguing that “sending more forces and resources to Europe to defend new allies” would not help to “strengthen our deterrent posture in the Pacific,” where he and fellow Republicans have repeatedly warned of the alleged threat posed by China. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, meanwhile, voted ‘present,’ the only other lawmaker who did not approve the resolution.
A libertarian-leaning Republican, Paul also introduced an amendment which would have reasserted Congress’ authorities to declare war, stressing that the collective defense provisions of the NATO bloc do not supersede the US Constitution. It was defeated 10-87, with only a handful of Republicans supporting the measure. Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said the amendment might show “cracks” in Washington’s commitments to “mutual defense” and NATO’s support to Ukraine in its war with Russia.
President Joe Biden, who has been the principal player rallying global economic and material support for Ukraine, has sought quick entry for the two previously non-militarily aligned northern European nations.
“This historic vote sends an important signal of the sustained, bipartisan U.S. commitment to NATO, and to ensuring our Alliance is prepared to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow,” Biden said in a statement Wednesday evening.
“I look forward to signing the accession protocols and welcoming Sweden and Finland, two strong democracies with highly capable militaries, into the greatest defensive alliance in history,” the president added.
“The United States remains committed to the security of Sweden and Finland. We will continue working to remain vigilant against any threats to our shared security,” the president added.
With Wednesday’s vote and President Biden’s signature, 20 of NATO’s 30 states will have ratified membership for Stockholm and Helsinki, according to the Hill. They require unanimous consent from the alliance in order to join, and though both initially faced staunch resistance from Turkey, they appear to have reached tentative deals to satisfy Ankara’s conditions.
Nnamdi Maduakor is a Writer, Investor and Entrepreneur