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Senate votes to ratify Finland and Sweden membership in NATO

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WASHINGTON — The Senate on Wednesday passed a resolution ratifying Finland and Sweden’s applications to join NATO as the Western military alliance seeks to strengthen its resolve against the threat posed by Russia.

The measure was approved by a vote of 95 to 1, requiring the support of at least two-thirds of the senators present. sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., cast the sole vote against ratification.

“Today’s vote shows that our alliance is stronger than ever,” said Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., just before the vote on the Senate floor. “This is important in terms of content and as a signal to Russia: they cannot intimidate America or Europe.”

The Biden administration is now expected to submit the ratification documents to NATO.

All 30 NATO countries must ratify the applications before Finland and Sweden can join. The two European countries are seeking to join the alliance, which would end their longstanding military neutrality, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Schumer said that when he and Senate leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., met in May with the Finnish president and Swedish prime minister, they promised to ratify their membership in NATO before the Senate recess in August.

McConnell offered his support for the resolution ahead of the vote on Wednesday.

“An even closer cooperation with these partners will help us counter Russia and China. Their accession will make NATO stronger and America safer,” McConnell said in a statement. “This is a national security slam dunk that deserves unanimous bipartisan support.”

Hawley, the only dissenter on Wednesday’s vote, gave a taste of his opposition earlier this week in a… opinion piece published in The National Interest.

“We need to do less in Europe (and elsewhere) to prioritize China and Asia,” he wrote.

With the vote in the Senate, the US joins other NATO member states that have ratified the applications from Finland and Sweden. The Italian parliament gave its final approval on Wednesday.

The last country to join NATO was North Macedonia, in 2020. Hawley voted for their membership.

Kate Santaliz and Zoe Richards contributed.

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