Senate votes overwhelmingly to allow Sweden and Finland into NATO

A resolution ratifying Sweden and Finland’s membership in NATO was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate on Wednesday, sending another message that Congress is still united in its opposition to Russian aggression toward Ukraine and Europe.

According to a report by The Hill, The majority of Republicans and all members of the Democratic caucus voted in favor of the resolution, which was approved by the Senate 95 to 1. It validates the admission protocols that were signed on July 5 by NATO countries.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) was the only Republican who voted against the measure, his reasoning for which he explained a recent OP-Ed where he said that the United States should focus on containing China instead of expanding NATO. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) voted “present” on the resolution.

“We cannot strengthen our deterrent posture in the Pacific if we’re sending more forces and resources to Europe to defend new allies. That’s the bottom line,” Hawley said on the floor before the vote.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) visited Sweden and Finland in May as part of a congressional group that also had a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, and the resolution was one of his major priorities.

Before adjourning for the one-month August recess, McConnell insisted that the Senate ratify Sweden’s and Finland’s membership in NATO.

“There is just no question that admitting these robust democratic countries with modern economies and capable, interoperable militaries will only strengthen the most successful military alliance in human history,” McConnell said on the Senate floor.

McConnell pointed out that Finland currently meets NATO’s requirement that members spend at least 2% of their national gross domestic product on defense and that Sweden already takes part in NATO-led missions under American leadership.

He argued that standing up to Russian aggression will send a clear message to Chinese authorities and that his Republican colleagues who voted against expanding NATO made a mistake: Even closer cooperation with these partners will help us counter Russia and China. Their accession will make NATO stronger and America more secure,” he said. “If any senator is looking for a defensible excuse to vote ‘no,’ I wish them good luck. This is a slam dunk for national security that deserves unanimous bipartisan support,” he added.