By Kenneth Casey | United States
At around 7:00 EST on Tuesday, the Senate voted on a motion that supports continuing U.S. support and funds to NATO by an overwhelming majority of 97-2, with the only two dissents being libertarian-leaning Republicans Rand Paul and Mike Lee. With all the buzz and craziness going on about Donald Trump’s recent nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, the vote of the two Senators flew under the radar.
This vote comes about 6 hours after President Trump criticized fellow participating countries in NATO for not paying their expected expenses to the treaty whilst relying on the U.S. for expected funding and defense.
Many countries in NATO, which we are expected to defend, are not only short of their current commitment of 2% (which is low), but are also delinquent for many years in payments that have not been made. Will they reimburse the U.S.?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 10, 2018
Trump’s rhetoric on NATO goes back to when he was running for president. He was often criticizing our involvement in NATO and was one of the only Republican candidates calling for decreased spending within the treaty.
Rand Paul, who as mentioned prior was one of two Senators to vote against the motion, seemed to agree with President Trump on the issue of America’s involvement in NATO. He tweeted out the following:
Why is the U.S. Senate pushing to expand NATO when most of them aren’t even paying their fair share? I stand with @realDonaldTrump. Today, I blocked a resolution that applauds and calls for the expansion of NATO.
— Senator Rand Paul (@RandPaul) July 10, 2018
Paul’s opposition to the expansion of NATO is unsurprising, as the libertarian senator has long expressed disapproval for our involvement in the treaty. Back in March of 2017, Rand objected to the adding membership of Montenegro to the treaty, which promptly led to Senator John McCain of Arizona accusing Rand of “working for Vladimir Putin”. The Senate ended up confirming support of Montenegro’s addition to NATO, with only two Senators objecting: Rand Paul and Mike Lee. Mike Lee commented on the addition of Montenegro to NATO:
“Of course, treaties and alliances with other countries can be beneficial, but the founders of this country understood their seriousness as well as going to war. That is why both of these powers-the power to make and ratify treaties and the power to declare and execute a war- are shared by the legislative and executive branches, and treaty ratification must be achieved by a supermajority in the Senate.”
-Senator Mike Lee of Utah
Unfortunately for libertarians who want the United States’ involvement in NATO to decrease, for both the purpose of cutting foreign aid and being involved in fewer entanglements overseas, Rand Paul and Mike Lee alone don’t have a ton of power in the Senate. 98 other Senators sharing opposing views which favor U.S. alliances and involvement abroad, so the only way for this to change is by electing more libertarian-leaning Senators.
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