Senate Blocks Unilateral Withdrawal From NATO

The Senate voted this week to disallow any president from being able to withdraw the United States from the NATO alliance without congressional approval. While the move applies to any current or future commander-in-chief, the move appears to be specifically targeted toward former President Donald Trump.

The provision, sponsored by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) was included in the Senate’s approval of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The addition limits any president’s ability to remove the United States from the alliance without either a two-thirds vote in the Senate or an act of Congress.

The Senate passed the $886 bill Thursday.

While the bill did not discuss any particular national leader, it appeared to follow anticipation that Trump may be elected president next year.

The former president has signaled skepticism about the United States’ role in the alliance, in which Washington was a founding member. During his time in office, he called for European nations to meet the minimum 2% of GDP spending on defense recommended by the alliance.

He specifically called out Germany, which was paying less than 1.4% of its national economy on defense.

Trump said in 2020 that the country was “paying a very small fraction of what they’re supposed to be paying.”

Separately, former chief of staff John Kelly said that Trump asked why the nation was in NATO in 2017.

The former president has made a number of similar comments since leaving office in 2021.

Formed after the end of World War II, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization comprises the United States, Canada and most of the nations of Europe. It was originally formed in case of a war with the Soviet Union and its allies.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the alliance has expanded significantly, including with nations that were previously in the Soviet Union’s Warsaw Pact. Several countries that were part of the Soviet Union have joined the alliance.

Finland joined NATO earlier this year and Sweden’s application to the group is currently under consideration.