The Senate has approved a treaty allowing Sweden and Finland to join NATO.
The treaty, gaining bipartisan support, passed Wednesday by a vote of 95-1 in favor of expanding the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, The New York Times reported. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-K.Y., voiced support for ratifying the treaty and for the growth of the organization.
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., was the only senator to vote against the treaty, the Times reported. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., voted present.
“Our NATO alliance is the bedrock that has guaranteed democracy in the Western world since the end of World War II,” Schumer said.
Sweden and Finland sought membership in NATO after Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, as they fear their nations may be targeted next, according to a statement released by the U.S. Defense Department.
Finland shares a border with Russia.
Historically, both Sweden and Finland have remained neutral or apprehensive of joining armed conflict. However, since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the two countries have made historic changes in their foreign policies and sought to join the international defense organization.
All 30 members of the alliance must vote on the same resolution for the entries of Sweden and Finland to NATO to become official. Once all members ratify the treaty, NATO will consist of 32 member states.
Hawley protested ratification, saying the United States should be more focused on combating China than Russia, The Hill reported.
On the floor of the Senate, Hawley berated the decision, stating that those who support it are misguided and that although joining the alliance was in Sweden’s and Finland’s best interests, it was not in America’s interests. He called for Europe to defend itself and rely less on the U.S.
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