Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) spoke Wednesday in support of Finland and Sweden’s efforts to join NATO ahead of a Senate vote later in the day expected to receive broad, but not unanimous, support .
“Their accession will make NATO stronger and America safer,” McConnell said.
“If a senator is looking for a defensible excuse to vote no, I wish them the best of luck,” he continued. “This is a slam dunk for national security that deserves unanimous bipartisan support.”
The efforts of the two European countries to join the military alliance are expected to receive broad, bipartisan support in the Senate.
sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) said Monday he would vote against their accession, arguing in an op-ed that the United States should focus on China’s more pressing threat rather than expanding its alliance with European countries. .
A symbolic resolution supporting Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership was opposed in a vote last month by just 18 House Republicans.
The two Scandinavian countries announced their desire to join NATO in May, in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, when domestic sentiment shifted dramatically in favor of joining the alliance.
All 30 member states of the alliance must now approve the two countries’ bids for the attempt to succeed. Twenty-two countries have already ratified their accession, while the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey and the United States have not yet formally signed.
The only country to speak out against the additions was Turkey, which has since supported its advance after negotiations over security guarantees.
McConnell on Wednesday reiterated his endorsement of Finland and Sweden’s NATO bids, noting that Finland is already meeting the alliance’s target of countries spending 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense, while Sweden made “significant” investments in the modernizing its army.
“There is no doubt that admitting these robust democratic countries with modern economies and capable interoperable militaries will only strengthen the most successful military alliance in human history,” McConnell said during his floor address.