Senators reintroduce bill to block NATO withdrawal

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A bipartisan group of senators reintroduced a bill Thursday aimed at blocking any U.S. president from leaving NATO.

“NATO has been a critical alliance for nearly 75 years,” Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), a member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations committees, said in a statement. “It has ably served the U.S., our NATO allies and the world. This bill expresses clear congressional support for the continuing value of NATO and clarifies that no president acting alone can sever the bonds of the alliance.”

Kaine introduced the bill with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a fellow Foreign Relations Committee member and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. It has 13 co-sponsors from both parties.

The bill was previously introduced in the last two sessions of Congress amid concerns that then-President Trump would withdraw the United States from the military alliance, something he repeatedly voiced a desire to do.

President Biden, by contrast, has treated NATO warmly and emphasized the importance he places on allies, coordinating with NATO on several major policies including this week’s announcements on withdrawing from Afghanistan and sanctioning Russia.

But the reintroduction of the bill signals lawmakers’ continued support for the alliance, as well.

“As a critical military alliance for our national security interests and the security of our allies in Europe, NATO is more important than ever,” Rubio said in a statement. “With Moscow’s growing subversive aggressions, we must ensure no U.S. president withdraws from NATO without the advice and consent of the Senate.”

The bill would specifically require two-thirds approval from the Senate for a president to suspend, terminate or withdraw the United States from NATO.

Right now, presidents are required to get the consent of the Senate to enter into treaties. Article 13 of the NATO treaty requires a country give a one-year “notice of denunciation” before it can exit NATO.

In addition to requiring Senate approval for Trump to withdraw, the bill reintroduced Thursday would authorize the Senate Legal Counsel and the General Counsel of the House to challenge in court any attempt by the administration to withdraw from NATO without the Senate’s consent.

The measure advanced out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2019, but was never taken up by the full Senate. 

Tags Donald Trump Joe Biden Marco Rubio Tim Kaine

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