Bipartisan House duo introduces bill to stymie potential US NATO withdrawal

Bipartisan House duo introduces bill to stymie potential US NATO withdrawal
© Greg Nash

Two California lawmakers are pushing a bipartisan bill that would prevent taxpayer dollars from being used to withdraw the United States from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). 

House Armed Services Committee member Jimmy PanettaJames Varni PanettaBipartisan House group introduces bills to stall Syria, South Korea troop withdrawals House passes bill expressing support for NATO This week: Congress heading in opposite directions on shutdown plans MORE (D) on Thursday introduced the No NATO Withdrawal Act — cosponsored by Republican Rep. Steve Knight — to “reassert Congressional support” for the alliance.

“The NATO alliance is a pillar of international peace, stability, and security, and serves as a deterrent against aggression and destabilization,” Panetta said in a statement.  

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“In the face of Russia's threats and attacks on American and allied interests, Congress must take a stand and solidify our commitment to our allies.” 

The legislation would prohibit funds from being used to pull the United States from NATO, and states that it is U.S. policy to reject any efforts to withdraw from the alliance.

In addition, it pledges to continue to work with member nations to ensure each country spends at least 2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense spending, an agreement reached at the 2014 NATO Summit in Wales.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpAverage tax refunds down double-digits, IRS data shows White House warns Maduro as Venezuela orders partial closure of border with Colombia Trump administration directs 1,000 more troops to Mexican border MORE — who has long demanded that NATO countries pay more for defense — earlier this month rattled the NATO summit in Brussels when he raised concerns the U.S. would withdraw from the transatlantic alliance it helped create.

Trump repeated calls for allies to increase their defense spending, complaining that the U.S. shoulders an unfair burden in contributing more to the alliance than other countries.

He later said European nations had agreed to boost their spending.

The Senate has since responded with a nonbinding vote to instruct lawmakers, then-hashing out the national defense policy bill, to use a conference committee to "reaffirm" the U.S. commitment to NATO.

Trump also drew criticism when he later did not condemn Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election while at a Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. 

“America and our NATO partners share common economic and security interests, and it must remain a strong asset in opposition to Russia,” Knight said in a statement on the bill.

“Under Vladimir Putin's regime, Russia has repeatedly shown disregard for the territorial and political sovereignty of other nations. The occupation of Crimea and interference in America's election are an affront to the lessons of history.”