Senate votes in favor of Finland and Sweden joining NATO

The US Senate on Wednesday night approved a resolution 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 Republican Missouri 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 approve the issue before their August recess.

Finland and Sweden announced their decision to officially join NATO within days of each other in May, ending long-standing positions of neutrality following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. They simultaneously submitted their applications on May 18.

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

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, flanked by Paivi Nevala, Minister Counselor at the Embassy of Finland, left, and Karin Olofsdotter, Ambassador of Sweden to the United States, greets Swedish and Finnish diplomats just before the vote of the Senate to ratify NATO membership for both nations in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, on Capitol Hill in Washington, August 3, 2022.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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

In Wednesday’s vote, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., brushed off Paul and Hawley in a speech, saying, “Their membership will make NATO stronger and America safer.” If a senator is looking for a defensible excuse to vote no, I wish them luck.”

Hawley aligned himself with former President Donald Trump, saying the United States could pour more funds and firepower into NATO “or do what we have to do to deter Asia and China. We can’t do both.”

Paul has always worked to keep the United States out of foreign conflicts. He proposed an amendment that most rejected aimed at ensuring that Congress’s role in authorizing military force would not be usurped by the NATO pact’s Common Defense Commitment, known as the item 5.

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

Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D.N.Y., applauded the Senate vote, say on twitter that it is “all the more urgent [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s barbaric, immoral and unjustified war in Ukraine.”

President Joe Biden thanked a number of senators, including Schumer and McConnell, for moving the ratification process quickly.

“This historic vote sends an important signal of the United States’ sustained, bipartisan commitment to NATO and ensuring that our Alliance is ready to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow,” the President said. in a press release.

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