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 PanettaOvernight Defense: Officials rush to deny writing anonymous op-ed | Lawmakers offer measure on naming NATO headquarters after McCain | US, India sign deal on sharing intel Lawmakers introduce resolution to back naming NATO headquarters after McCain Overnight Defense: 7B defense policy bill speeding toward finish line | Trump threatens Turkey with sanctions over American pastor | Senators offer bills to defend NATO ties 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 TrumpOver 100 lawmakers consistently voted against chemical safeguards: study CNN's Anderson Cooper unloads on Trump Jr. for spreading 'idiotic' conspiracy theories about him Cohn: Jamie Dimon would be 'phenomenal' president 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.”