House passes bill expressing support for NATO

House passes bill expressing support for NATO
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The House passed bipartisan legislation on Tuesday expressing congressional support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

The bill, which passed in a 357-22 vote, includes a provision rejecting any efforts made by President TrumpDonald John Trump2020 Democrats spar over socialism ahead of first debate Senate passes .5 billion border bill, setting up fight with House 'Teflon Don' avoids the scorn of the 'family values' GOP — again MORE to potentially withdraw from the treaty. All the "no" votes were from conservative Republicans.

Its passage comes days after administration aides told The New York Times that Trump has repeatedly floated pulling out of NATO over the course of the past year — a move critics fear would embolden Russia and threaten strategic international military alliances.

The House-passed measure, spearheaded by Rep. Jimmy PanettaJames Varni PanettaPolitical world mourns death of Doris Day Lawmakers pressed to fix tax law glitch Dems set to debate Trump impeachment in post-Mueller era MORE (D-Calif.), would bar any funds from being used to withdraw from the alliance.

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“This bill makes it clear the United States Congress still believes in the NATO mission and will prevent any short-sighted efforts to undermine the NATO or unilaterally withdrawal our country,” House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerDemocrats already jockeying for House leadership posts House Democratic leaders work to secure votes for border bill Hoyer: House won't move forward on congressional pay bump MORE (D-Md.) told reporters Tuesday, highlighting the alliance's role in the peaceful end to the Cold War.

The legislation also includes language calling on NATO members to meet their commitment of providing at least 2 percent of their GDP for defense spending, which was agreed upon in the 2014 Wales Defense Investment Pledge. It also promotes “robust funding for the European Deterrence Initiative to counter Russian aggression.”

"You know, all of us up here agree that we can continue to pressure our NATO allies to pay their self-stated goal of 2 percent of their GDP to the alliance. But that doesn't mean that we want to get out of here,” Panetta told reporters head of the vote.

“In fact, that would be a historic mistake. Because what we have to realize is that NATO is not just a transactional relationship," he said, adding that the focus "can't just be on who pays what and who gets what. Being a member of NATO is not like being a member of a country club.”

Panetta stressed that it is critical for the U.S. to remain in the alliance to help deter Russian aggression. He said other countries can work with the U.S. to prepare not only for the possibility of conventional war, but to “also push back against Russia's constant use of hybrid warfare.”

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The House isn’t the only chamber taking action to deter the administration from pulling out of NATO. A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the Senate recently reintroduced legislation aimed at preventing the commander-in-chief from withdrawing from the alliance without the approval of the upper chamber.