This week, the Senate voted to allow Sweden and Finland into NATO.
Sweden and Finland’s request to join NATO were approved by the Senate. After Russia annexed Ukraine, Finland and Sweden requested to join the defensive treaty organization.
Each country must approve Sweden and Finland’s request to join NATO.
The Senate passed the applications for both nations with a 95-1 majority. The bill received overwhelming support from both parties, while Senator Josh Hawley’s (R-MO) vote was no and Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) was present instead of voting against it.
The Senate passed an amendment offered by Paul that stated that Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty would not take precedence over Congress’s sole power to declare war before voting on ratification. The motion was rejected by a vote of 10-87.
The approval of Sweden and Finland’s application was not supported by all Republicans.
Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) incurred the wrath of his GOP colleagues when he revealed this week that he would vote against Sweden and Finland joining NATO.
In an op-ed for the National Interest, Hawley claimed that expanding NATO would force the U.S. to defend additional countries at a time when it is trying to realign its posture against China’s expansionism. He further asserted that many EU NATO members do not fulfill their commitment of spending 2% of GDP on defense.
In a Senate floor statement ahead of the vote, Hawley said that instead of worrying about Europe, America should be focused on China.
“Today’s vote for the expansion of NATO offers a simple option: we do more in Europe – more resources, more troops, and more spending – or we concentrate on China, our #1 adversary. We can not simultaneously devote our attention to both.”
The latest split between Senate Republicans who favor a more traditional Republican hawkish foreign policy and those who advocate for a less interventionist approach to international affairs is represented by the NATO debate.
“If any senator can produce a reasonable justification to vote no, I hope they have success,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said before the vote.
Several other Senate Republicans have criticized Hawley’s position on NATO expansion.
It’s curious, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) remarked, that Hawley would be against allowing Finland and Sweden into NATO but in favor of accepting North Macedonia and Montenegro as members.