(The Hill) — Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) was the only senator to vote against a resolution on Wednesday backing Finland’s and Sweden’s entry to NATO.
The Senate approved the resolution in a 95-1 vote. One senator, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), voted present.
The resolution backs Finland and Sweden joining NATO. The House approved a resolution in a bipartisan 394-18 vote last month that formally supported the two Nordic countries joining the military alliance. All opposition in the House came from the Republican Party.
Hawley’s vote against the resolution did not come as a surprise. He had announced his intent to vote against the resolution earlier this week, outlining his opposition in an op-ed published by The National Interest.
He said he does not believe the U.S. should expand its security commitments in Europe, because America’s “greatest foreign adversary” is China.
Hawley argued that growing the country’s security commitments in Europe would make Americans less safe.
“Finland and Sweden want to join the Atlantic Alliance to head off further Russian aggression in Europe. That is entirely understandable given their location and security needs. But America’s greatest foreign adversary doesn’t loom over Europe. It looms in Asia,” Hawley wrote.
“I am talking of course about the People’s Republic of China. And when it comes to Chinese imperialism, the American people should know the truth: the United States is not ready to resist it. Expanding American security commitments in Europe now would only make that problem worse—and America, less safe,” he added.
The Missouri Republican elaborated on his stance in remarks on the Senate floor Wednesday, arguing that adding Finland and Sweden to NATO is not in the national security interest of the U.S.
“Finland and Sweden want to expand NATO because it is in their national security interest to do so, and fair enough. The question that should properly be before us, however, is, is it in the United States’s interests to do so? Because that’s what American foreign policy is supposed to be about, I thought,” Hawley said.
“Expanding NATO will require more United States forces in Europe, more manpower, more firepower, more resources, more spending. And not just now but over the long haul. But our greatest foreign adversary is not in Europe. Our greatest foreign adversary is in Asia. And when it comes to countering that adversary, we are behind the game. I’m talking, of course, about China. The communist government of Beijing has adopted a policy of imperialism,” he added.
Paul voted “present” on the resolution shortly after the Senate defeated his amendment to the measure in a 10-87 vote. Nine Republicans joined him in supporting the addition.
The amendment sought to emphasize that Article 5 of the NATO treaty does not supersede Congress’s control over declaring war.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday delivered remarks in support of the resolution and wished those opposed to the measure “good luck” in finding a “defensible excuse” for their “no” votes.
“If any senator is looking for a defensible excuse to vote ‘no,’ I wish them good luck. This is a slam dunk for national security that deserves unanimous bipartisan support,” McConnell said.
“There’s just no question that admitting these robust democratic countries with modern economies and capable interoperable militaries will only strengthen the most successful military alliance in human history,” he added.