House approves resolution supporting Finland, Sweden joining NATO; 18 Republicans vote ‘no’
The House approved a resolution on Monday that expressed support for Finland and Sweden joining NATO, exactly two months after the Nordic countries submitted applications to become part of the military alliance amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The resolution cleared the House in a 394-18 vote, with only Republicans voting in opposition. Two Democrats and 17 Republicans did not vote.
The GOP lawmakers who voted “no” were Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Dan Bishop (N.C.), Lauren Boebert (Colo.), Madison Cawthorn (N.C.), Ben Cline (Va.), Michael Cloud (Texas), Warren Davidson (Ohio), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Bob Good (Va.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), Morgan Griffith (Va.), Thomas Massie (Ky.), Tom McClintock (Calif.), Mary Miller (Ill.), Ralph Norman (S.C.), Matt Rosendale (Mont.), Chip Roy (Texas) and Jefferson Van Drew (N.J.).
The measure, which has bipartisan sponsorship, expresses support for Finland and Sweden’s “historic decision” to apply to NATO and calls on member states to formally support them joining the military alliance.
It also opposes any efforts by the Russian Federation to adversely respond to Finland and Sweden’s decision to join the alliance and urges NATO members to satisfy the two percent defense spending pledge that countries signed on to at the 2014 Wales Summit. That declaration said that NATO allies currently spending at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense would try to continue to do so.
The House passed the resolution exactly two months after Finland and Sweden submitted their applications to become members of NATO. On June 29, the military alliance officially invited the two Nordic countries to join the group.
Even before then, however, on June 9, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a resolution by voice vote that called on NATO to quickly grant membership to Finland and Sweden.
The push for Finland and Sweden to join NATO gained steam this year, particularly after Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, which is still ongoing. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky recently said the war could come to an end by the conclusion of this year.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) expressed support for the resolution during debate on the House floor Monday, saying that “two extraordinary new members” will be added to the European community and underscoring the value the countries will bring to the alliance.
“Together, Finland and Sweden will add substantial capabilities to NATO’s collective defense and make the Baltic region much more secure against Russian aggression. But much more than that, they will add value because of their values to our alliance,” Hoyer said.
Hoyer also called for Russia’s “strategic defeat” in the war, emphasizing the international signfiicance of a victory for Kyiv.
“Vladimir Putin must not win this war. Not only for the sake of the Ukrainians and their extraordinary bravery, and the bravery and leadership of Mr. Zelensky, their president, but because the free world needs to send a very strong and clear and unmistakable message that tyranny will not prevail,” he said.
“We must send a message to dictators around the world that this action is unacceptable and will be opposed to victory by the free world. We must defend the hard-won principle in international laws and norms that a nation cannot simply invade and seek to conquer territory from a neighbor by force,” he added.
Rep. Michael Turner (R-Ohio), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee and a sponsor of the resolution, said Finland and Sweden will be “significant security providers for NATO.”
“Finland and Sweden’s strategic location in northern Europe, advanced militaries, and decades of fighting alongside the U.S. and NATO mean that their accession will immediately strengthen the transatlantic security,” he said during debate on the House floor.
“Finland and Sweden have well-trained armed forces, sophisticated modern weapon systems and have committed to allocating two percent of their gross domestic product to defense spending. Both militaries are highly interoperable with NATO forces, having participated in numerous NATO-led operations from Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia and Herzegovina to Kosovo,” he added.
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