The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, March 26, 2022. The House of Representatives voted to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. (Photo by Marisa Demarco / Source New Mexico)
Three Virginia congressmen were among a relative handful of House Republicans who voted against a resolution expressing support for Finland and Sweden joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
U.S. Reps. Ben Cline, R-Botetourt, Bob Good, R-Campbell, and Morgan Griffith, R-Salem, joined 15 other GOP members to oppose the resolution, which passed the House Monday with overwhelming bipartisan support in a 394-18 vote. The resolution expresses “support for the sovereign decision of Finland and Sweden to apply to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as well as calling on all members of NATO to ratify the protocols of accession swiftly.”
Sweden and Finland have strong, bipartisan support in Congress as they seek NATO membership, and their addition will meaningfully enhance the security of the whole alliance. Our resolution expresses the House of Representatives' approval for welcoming both countries to NATO: https://t.co/DYFZY04FDe
— Rep. Don Beyer (@RepDonBeyer) May 20, 2022
The Nordic countries are seeking to join the collective defense organization of 30 member countries in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Though he called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “tyrant” who is “ruthlessly destroying” Ukraine, in a statement to the Mercury Good said he voted against the resolution as a “no-confidence vote in the Biden administration’s failed foreign policy, including the lack of a coherent strategy for the $56 billion of our tax dollars being spent in Ukraine.”
Good said adding two countries to NATO “is only likely to escalate tensions with Russia and increase the chances President Biden will eventually be deploying American troops.”
Biden has repeatedly rejected the possibility of sending U.S. troops to fight in Ukraine.
Griffith said in a statement that he wasn’t opposed to Finland and Sweden joining NATO but thought the House was overstepping its bounds.
“The Senate has the constitutional role to ratify or reject accession to NATO, but the House does not. The resolution in fact goes further than support for admitting Finland and Sweden to NATO by calling on the alliance’s other members to support it, too,” Griffith said. “Decisions about the future of NATO need to be made carefully and with a full consideration of the facts.”
Both Good and Griffith raised concerns about NATO members not meeting their defense spending obligations — member nations agreed at a 2014 summit to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense by 2024 and most are not on target to do so— which was a frequent Trump-era punching bag.
“Although Finland meets the threshold of spending two percent of its GDP on defense, Sweden does not. Too many current members of the alliance do not meet this benchmark even though it was agreed upon in 2014. President Trump was right to urge countries to spend more on defense, and we should fix this major challenge to the alliance’s standing before NATO takes on more obligations,” Griffith said.
A spokesman for Cline did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday. The rest of Virginia’s delegation, including U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Montross, voted yes.
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