Senate votes for Finland and Sweden to join NATO

The US Senate passed a resolution late Wednesday to support Finland and Sweden joining NATO, a crucial step in the two countries’ quest to join the 30-member alliance.

The Senate voted 95-1, with Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley voting no and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., voting “present.”

The vote comes several weeks after the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the admission of Finland and Sweden to NATO. Lawmakers were working to pass the issue before the August break.

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 Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They simultaneously submitted their applications on May 18.

PHOTO: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, flanked by Paivi Nevala, Minister Counselor of the Embassy of Finland and Karin Olofsdotter, Ambassador of Sweden, greets diplomats from Sweden and Finland in Washington on August 3, 2022.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, flanked by Paivi Nevala, Minister Counselor at the Embassy of Finland, left, and Karin Olofsdotter, Swedish Ambassador to the US in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, on Capitol Hill Washington, on August 3, 2022.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The 30 NATO members must ratify the accession of the two countries. Seven countries remain.

During Wednesday’s vote, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, veiled criticism of Paul and Hawley in a floor speech, saying, “Their joining will strengthen NATO and make America more Sure. If any Senators are looking for a defensible excuse to vote no, I wish them the best of luck.”

Hawley sided with former President Donald Trump, saying the United States could put more money and firepower into NATO “or do whatever it takes to deter Asia and China. We can’t do both.”

Paul has always worked to keep the United States out of foreign conflict. He offered an amendment that most rejected to ensure that Congress’s role in authorizing military force is not usurped by the NATO pact’s common defense commitment, known as Article 5.

PHOTO: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer poses for a photo with an official delegation from Finland and Sweden in his office in Washington on August 3, 2022.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer poses for a photo with an official delegation from Finland and Sweden in his office in Washington on August 3, 2022.

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., applauded the Senate vote, saying on twitter which is “more urgent given [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s barbaric, immoral and unjustified war in Ukraine”.

President Joe Biden thanked several senators, including Schumer and McConnell, for quickly moving the ratification process forward.

“This historic vote sends an important signal of America’s sustained, bipartisan commitment to NATO and to ensuring that our Alliance is prepared to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow,” the president said in a statement.

Leave a Comment