Senate backs Montenegro’s NATO membership

The Senate voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to back Montenegro joining NATO, sending the treaty to President Trump’s desk.
Senators voted 97-2 to back NATO’s expansion, with Republican Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Mike Lee (Utah) opposing the treaty to approve the country’s NATO membership. All current NATO members would also have to approve Montenegro’s membership.
Lawmakers from both parties stressed that the move will help push back against a resurgent Russia, which is opposed to NATO expanding its membership in Eastern Europe.
“Montenegro’s membership also sends an important signal that NATO’s door remains open to aspiring countries in the face of Russian aggression and interference,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said from the Senate floor ahead of Tuesday’s final vote.
{mosads}Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) added that it was “naive” to think the U.S. would not be impacted if lawmakers “sit on the sidelines and watch [Russian President Vladimir] Putin turn the world upside down.”
But Paul and Lee both argued that allowing Montenegro to join NATO did little to help U.S. national security interests.
“I don’t see how the accession of Montenegro, a country with the population smaller than most congressional districts and a military smaller than the police force of the District of Columbia, is beneficial enough that we should share an agreement for collective defense,” Lee said on Tuesday.
Under NATO’s Article 5, member states agree to defend any NATO country that is threatened by force.
The Senate was expected to approve Montenegro’s membership after lawmakers voted overwhelmingly on Monday night to end debate on the treaty.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) tried to set up a vote on the treaty earlier this month but was blocked by Paul.
McCain blasted Paul on the Senate floor at the time, saying that the “senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin.”

“He has no justification for his objection to having a small nation be part of NATO that is under assault from the Russians,” McCain said.

Tags Chris Murphy John McCain Lindsey Graham Mike Lee Rand Paul

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