A treaty that would expand NATO to include Finland and Sweden was approved by an overwhelming majority of the Senate on Wednesday. Republicans and Democrats joined forces to support one of the most significant expansions of the alliance in decades in response to Russia’s ongoing assault on Ukraine. Republicans and Democrats joined forces for one of the most significant expansions of the alliance in decades.
The embassies of Finland and Sweden were present in the gallery of the Senate to observe as the vote was conducted, which resulted in a 95-1 majority. The only senator to vote against it was Missouri’s Republican Josh Hawley. The Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul cast a “present” vote.
Even in the face of threats from Russian President Vladimir V. Putin that Sweden and Finland would face unspecified retaliation should they join NATO, the final tally was significantly higher than the two-thirds majority of the Senate that was required to approve the treaty. This highlights the appetite for a more robust military alliance that exists among members of both parties.
The two new nations may only officially join the alliance after receiving ratification from each of the coalition’s existing 30 members. Already, twenty-two nations have taken this step.
Given the explicit scorn that former President Donald J. Trump had for NATO, the Republican backing for the pact was especially surprising. Some members of the GOP who have publicly declared their support for Mr. Trump have embraced his “America first” attitude, which rejects the idea of shared responsibility for the upkeep of the international system as well as alliances.
However, the Republican minority leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, has made it his goal as of late to fight against the anti-interventionist tendency that exists within his party.
Mr. McConnell has made it a point in recent months, driven on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, to firmly and publicly mobilise support for the type of muscular military presence overseas that was long regarded as Republican doctrine. The invasion took place in Ukraine. In May, he flew to Ukraine, Sweden, and Finland in what he subsequently characterised as an attempt to show the world that Mr. Trump’s views on military assistance and alliances did not hold weight over Republicans or dictate the policy of the United States of America. He did this in an effort to show the world this.
Mr. McConnell has claimed that Sweden and Finland would be able to handle their portion of the military burden, which is a counter to a commonly stated issue in conservative quarters.
Another argument invoked by Republicans who maintained that the United States needed to shift its defence resources away from Europe and toward Asia was one that he presented to his fellow Republicans, namely that “even closer cooperation” with the two countries would assist the United States in its fight against China.
On Wednesday, Mr. McConnell delivered an address from the Senate floor, in which he said that “their entry would make NATO stronger and America more safe.” “I wish every senator the best of success in finding a reason to vote against this resolution,” the speaker said.