Senate leaders sign resolution backing Finland, Sweden joining NATO

Senate leaders sign resolution backing Finland, Sweden joining NATO

Top Democrats and Republican leaders in the Senate have signed a resolution backing Finland and Sweden joining NATO and urging President Joe Biden to speed up the process.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. said on Monday that they were co-sponsoring the resolution, which signals strong bipartisan support for the pair of European nations joining the NATO or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will be able to mark up the non-binding resolution on Thursday.

The Senate isn't expected to take up legislation approving NATO expansion until this summer. It requires support from two-thirds of senators, and is expected to pass easily.

The four-sided resolution was authored by Sens. Bob Menendez, D-N. J., and Jim Risch, R-Idaho, the leaders of the Foreign Relations Committee, states that Russia's invasion of Ukraine has dramatically changed the security situation in Europe, and that NATO expansion is critical to the security of the U.S. and its European allies.

The resolution calls on the Biden administration to complete all of the documents and reports needed to get the Senate to sign off on NATO expansion, and calls for other NATO members to complete their own ratification process.

As the world's democracies unite against Russian President Vladimir Putin and his crony oligarchs, Finland and Sweden s ascension into NATO will be a further rebuke of Putin's murderous attack on Ukraine, Schumer said in a statement.

The Ukrainian people continue to fight bravely against Russian aggression and every democracy in the world has an obligation to stand with Ukraine. McConnell said that Finland and Sweden are strong countries with formidable military capabilities that surpass many existing NATO allies. Both nations have strong defense funding, which means that their accession would bolster our pursuit of greater burden-sharing across the alliance. Their statements came just days after Schumer, McConnell and other senators hosted Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto on Capitol Hill. The two European leaders met with Biden during their visit to Washington.

The Senate voted 86- 11 to pass $40 billion of military, economic and humanitarian aid for Ukraine as it defends itself against Russia's bloody invasion.

All of the 11 no votes came from Republicans, some of whom said they had not yet decided how they will vote on NATO expansion.

I want to make sure that it doesn't increase America's security commitments in Europe. Senator Josh Hawley, R-Mo, said he wants to make sure there is no need for more forces. Last week, he told reporters. I think that we need to be more focused on Europe and not the Asia Pacific in terms of foreign policy challenges.