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Senate defeats Rand Paul amendment clarifying war powers in NATO resolution

Sen. Rand Paul
Shawn Thew/Pool via AP File
FILE – Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., questions Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra and Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona as they testify before a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on Sept. 30, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington. In his pursuit of a third Senate term, Paul projects a national voice for a libertarian-leaning philosophy based on limited government and restrained spending.

The Senate on Wednesday defeated an amendment put forth by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to the resolution backing Finland’s and Sweden’s accession to NATO, which sought to emphasize that Article 5 of the military alliance’s treaty does not supersede Congress’ ability to declare war.

Senators defeated the amendment in a 10-87 vote, with only Republicans voting in favor of revision.

GOP Sens. Mike Braun (Ind.), Ted Cruz (Texas), Steve Daines (Mont.), Josh Hawley (Mo.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), James Lankford (Okla.), Mike Lee (Utah), Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.) and Roger Marshall (Kansas) joined Paul in supporting the amendment.

Paul sought to tack the amendment on to a resolution ratifying Finland’s and Sweden’s entrance into NATO. The House approved a symbolic resolution backing their accession in a bipartisan 394-18 vote last month.

“Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty does not supersede the constitutional requirement that Congress declare war before the United States engages in war,” the amendment reads.

In remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday, Paul said he was proposing the amendment “to ensure that this expansion will not come at the expense of losing our ability to determine where and when the United States goes to war.”

“There is no more serious question that we are entrusted to answer than whether to commit the women, the men and women of the armed services, to war,” he said.

“We cannot delegate that responsibility to the president, to the courts, to an international body or to our allies. This is our constitutional responsibility, one that we have freely taken and one that our constituents expect us to uphold,” he added.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) spoke out against the amendment on the Senate floor Wednesday, warning that it may make the U.S.’s commitment to Article 5 appear “wobbly.”

He pointed to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an example of why the U.S.’s dedication to NATO is particularly crucial at this moment.

“With Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine, NATO has been united in providing support for the Ukrainians to defend themselves. NATO is also united in its adherence to the revisions of the NATO treaty,” Romney said.

“The world is watching to see if there are any cracks in that commitment, particularly with respect to its provisions for a mutual defense. We must not in any way appear to be going wobbly on Article 5. I fear that the Paul amendment would do just that,” he added.

The Utah Republican also argued that the amendment was unnecessary because the NATO treaty already states that provisions in the text should be carried out in accordance with the countries’ own constitutional processes.

“So adding the language of the Paul amendment would only add confusion and potentially communicate to the world that this body seeks something in addition to the adherence to the constitutional process that the treaty already requires,” he added.

The Senate on Wednesday adopted by voice vote a separate amendment proposed by Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) that says all NATO member countries should put at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product toward defense and use 20 percent of the funds set aside for defense on “major equipment, including research and development.”

Tags Finland Mitt Romney NATO Rand Paul Russia-Ukraine war Sweden
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