WASHINGTON – The Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly voted to pass a treaty that would expand NATO to include Finland and Sweden, with Republicans and Democrats linking arms for one of the biggest expansions. the alliance’s most important expansion in decades prior to Russia’s continued incursion into Ukraine.
The The ambassadors of Finland and Sweden were at the Senate gallery to watch the senators vote 95-1. Only Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, voted no. Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, voted present.
The figure far exceeds the two-thirds of the Senate needed to pass the treaty, underscoring the bipartisan appetite for a more muscular military alliance, even amid threats by Russian President Vladimir Putin. that Sweden and Finland would face unspecified retaliation if they joined NATO.
All 30 current members of the alliance must ratify the two countries’ accession. 22 countries did so.
Republican support for the treaty is particularly striking, made former President Donald J. Trump’s disdain for NATO. Some GOP lawmakers affiliated with him have adopted Mr. Trump’s “America First” philosophy of avoiding alliances and the concept of shared responsibility for maintaining the global order.
But the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, went on a late mission to fight anti-interventionist tension in his party.
In recent months, spurred on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Mr. McConnell has made a point of strongly rallying and publicly supporting the kind of strong foreign military presence once established. considered orthodox by the Republican Party. He traveled to Ukraine, Sweden and Finland in May, in what he later described as an attempt to show the world that Mr. Trump’s views on military aid and the alliance did not sway the party. Republic or policy direction of the United States.
Mr. McConnell has argued that Sweden and Finland should be able to shoulder the burden of their defense, which addresses concerns frequently raised in conservative circles.
He also made the case with Republicans that “working more closely” with the two nations would help the United States counter China, another argument made by Republicans that The United States needs to shift its defense resources out of Europe and into Asia.
“Their joining will make NATO stronger and America safer,” McConnell said in a Senate speech on Wednesday. “If any senator finds a good reason to vote no, I wish them luck.”