22 House Republicans Vote Nay for NATO Support Act

Canary. Photo by 4028mdk09.

“The U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation Tuesday evening that seeks to bar President Donald Trump from withdrawing from NATO amid renewed concerns over his commitment to the 29-nation military pact,” according a DefenseNews report.

In a bipartisan 357-22 vote, the Democrat-led lower chamber sent the Senate the NATO Support Act, which would prohibit the use of federal funds to withdraw from the 70-year-old alliance. Twenty-two Republicans voted no, while 28 Republicans and 26 Democrats did not vote.


The bill, which will now be sent to the Senate for a vote, also “affirms support for NATO and its mutual defense clause, for Montenegro’s accession, for “robust” U.S. funding for the European Deterrence Initiative and for the goal that each member nation spend at least 2 percent of its gross domestic product on defense by 2024.”

The Washington Examiner reported the overwhelming votes to pass the legislation comes in response to reports that Trump “has privately said he wanted to withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization” and to block Trump “from spending any federal money to withdrawal from NATO” and to “set formal policy that the U.S. will “remain a member in good standing.”’

President Trump has jolted Western allies with his various criticisms of the alliance, dating back to the campaign trail when he told reporters that NATO members couldn’t assume that the United States would defend them from an attack.

“If they fulfill their obligations to us, the answer is yes,” he said. He didn’t endorse Article V of the treaty — the provision that establishes that NATO members will defend each other if attacked — until the following year.

Washington Examiner

The author and sponsor of the bill Rep Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) was backed by House Majority leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engle (D-NY) along with four Republican cosponsors, including Texas Representative Will Hurd, who took to his social media for comment on his support of the legislation.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), the minority ranking member on the Foreign Affairs Committee commented in a speech on the floor, “an alliance of mutual defense is only as strong as each country’s commitment to its spending goals … Statements of support like this bill are important in affirming our relationships around the world. But actions speak louder than words. No statement about the importance of NATO speaks as loudly as a tangible commitment each country makes to ensuring the strength of the alliance.”

Over the last two years, Trump continues to send mixed messages, “bashing the alliance over burden sharing, made overtures to Putin and said he believes he has the authority to pull out of NATO if he chooses – even as his administration has worked to support the alliance.”

After attending the NATO Foreign Minister summit in December, Secretary of State Pompeo stated to reporters, “NATO is a far stronger organization as a result of the Trump administration than it was for the previous decade, I can assure you. And the 28 European ministers who were there with me today know that too.”

Speaking ahead of the vote on the NATO Support Act in a speech on the House floor, Engle called “splintering the NATO alliance on of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s top goals,” adding, “that’s why its so disturbing, so troubling to see the United States sending mixed signals about the alliance or treating it as a burden.”

Panetta agreed with spending increases, “but sharpened the rebuke of Trump.”

“NATO is not — is not — a transactional relationship,” the California Democrat said. “Our sole focus can’t just be on who pays and who gets what. Being a part of NATO is not like being a part of a country club … NATO is instrumental from setting us apart from Russia. Why? We have allies who will stand by us. Russia doesn’t.”


The Senate has a similar bi-partisan measure that would “require Trump get two-thirds consent from the Senate to pull America out of NATO led by Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) and with Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and others as cosponsors.

There is optimism expressed that “the two bills would be reconciled,” signaling that it would suggest “that Congress’s power of the purse is solid enough footing to proceed.”

After the vote, news that “the top U.S. diplomat for Europe is resigning after only 16 months,” and that Wess Mitchell, Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasian Affairs “will leave his post in mid-February.”

One of the bill’s co-sponsors, Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., called Congress “the only check we have” after the departure of former generals Jim Mattis as defense secretary, H.R. McMaster as national security adviser and John Kelly as chief of staff — and Nikki Haley as United Nations ambassador.

“They’re all gone now, we’re all that’s left, and its urgent and essential, therefore, that Congress play its constitutional role and take this action,” said Malinowski, a former U.S. diplomat and now a freshman congressman on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.


*[Side Note: The European Deterrence Initiative (pdf) – “(EDI) prior to 2017 known as the European Reassurance Initiative, is a program that was initiated in June 2014, about three months after the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, by the White House to increase the U.S. presence in Europe for security purposes. The initiative increased in appropriation from a $1 billion operation to $3.4 billion by 2017. In May 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump proposed adding another $1.4 billion (+40%) to the appropriation. Operation Atlantic Resolve is covered by the initiative.” ~ Wikipedia]

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