KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The US Senate voted nearly unanimously Wednesday - 95-1 - in approving a request from Finland and Sweden to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R - Missouri) was the sole no vote.
Hawley telegraphed his vote in a press release on Monday, in which he argued that while the two countries’ request was “entirely understandable given their location and security needs,” the United States couldn’t afford to come to their defense and also keep an eye on China and other interests in Asia.
Hawley said the US needs to “do less in Europe (and elsewhere) in order to prioritize China and Asia.”
The overwhelming support from both Democrats and Republicans was on display to quickly expand the alliance of Western military powers responding to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Senate leader Mitch McConnell visited Kyiv and other parts of the region earlier in 2022, pushing for more approval and support for Ukraine. McConnell said the addition of the two nations to NATO would be a “slam-dunk for national security,” PBS reported.
McConnell said, “Their accession will make NATO stronger and America more secure. If any senator is looking for a defensible excuse to vote no, I wish them good luck.”
As Reuters reported, it would be the most significant enlargement of the NATO alliance since the 1990s.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “Our NATO alliance is the bedrock that has guaranteed democracy in the Western world since the end of World War II.”