Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are developing a bipartisan resolution to urge the Biden administration to fast-track Finland and Sweden’s applications to become members of NATO.
The resolution is set for markup with the Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday.
“NATO has been the cornerstone of Western defense since World War II, and President Niinistö of Finland and Prime Minister Andersson of Sweden are showing strong leadership in joining the United States and its allies against Putin’s deeply immoral campaign of violence,” Schumer said in a statement Monday.
“As the world’s democracies unite against Putin and his crony oligarchs, Finland and Sweden’s ascension into NATO will be a further rebuke of Putin’s murderous attack on Ukraine,” he added.
McConnell added his support for Finland and Sweden in a similar statement.
“Finland and Sweden are strong countries with formidable military capabilities that surpass many existing NATO allies. Both nations’ robust defense funding means their accession would meaningfully bolster our pursuit of greater burden-sharing across the alliance,” he said.
The resolution was authored by New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez and Idaho Republican Sen. Jim Risch, who serve as leaders of the Foreign Relations Committee.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “has dramatically changed the security situation in Europe,” the resolution notes, making NATO expansion critical for the security of the U.S. and its European partners.
Last week, a bipartisan Senate vote approved an additional $40 billion in funding to Ukraine in an 86-11 vote. The 11 votes against the package came from Republicans opposed to additional spending while inflation and gas prices soar nationwide.
McConnell, following a recent surprise visit to Ukraine, seemed to suggest that Republican senators who opposed the bill were isolationists.
“There have always been isolationist voices in the Republican Party,” he said. “I think one of the lessons we learned in World War II is not standing up to aggression early is a huge mistake.”
On Monday, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) said he opposed the bill because it was not in America’s best interest. It is uncertain how the dissenting GOP senators will respond to the pending resolution regarding Finland and Sweden.
“Spending $40 billion on Ukraine aid – more than three times what all of Europe has spent combined – is not in America’s interests. It neglects priorities at home (the border), allows Europe to freeload, short changes critical interests abroad and comes w/ no meaningful oversight,” he tweeted. “That’s not isolationism. That’s nationalism. It’s about prioritizing American security and American interests.”
The moves also come after the State Department announced on Wednesday that it had raised the American flag at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv after moving operations three months earlier.
“Today we are officially resuming operations at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv. The Ukrainian people, with our security assistance, have defended their homeland in the face of Russia’s unconscionable invasion, and, as a result, the Stars and Stripes are flying over the Embassy once again,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement last Wednesday.
“We stand proudly with, and continue to support, the government and people of Ukraine as they defend their country from the Kremlin’s brutal war of aggression,” he added.