Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO.) was the only senator to oppose a bipartisan resolution allowing Finland and Sweden to join NATO on Wednesday.
The Senate approved the resolution 95-1 with Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) voting present. The House approved the resolution on a vote of 394-18 last month.
Finland and Sweden announced plans to join NATO in May following Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
Hawley argued that the U.S. should be focused on the threat from China instead of expanding security commitments in Europe.
“Finland and Sweden want to join the Atlantic Alliance to head off further Russian aggression in Europe. That is entirely understandable given their location and security needs,” Hawley wrote in an op-ed published in The National Interest earlier this week. “But America’s greatest foreign adversary doesn’t loom over Europe. It looms in Asia. I am talking of course about the People’s Republic of China. And when it comes to Chinese imperialism, the American people should know the truth: the United States is not ready to resist it. Expanding American security commitments in Europe now would only make that problem worse—and America, less safe.”
During his speech on the Senate floor Wednesday, Hawley said the U.S has nothing to gain from adding Finland and Sweden to NATO.
“Finland and Sweden want to expand NATO because it is in their national security interests to do so, and fair enough. The question that should properly be before us, however, is is it in the United States’ interests to do so? Because that’s what American foreign policy is supposed to be about,” Hawley said.
He added, “Our foreign policy should be about protecting the United States, our freedom, our people, and our way of life, and expanding NATO, I believe, would not do that.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell did not agree. He said, “there’s just no question that admitting these robust democratic countries with modern economies, and capable interoperable militaries will only strengthen the most successful military alliance in human history.”
McConnell also wished lawmakers like Hawley “good luck” in coming up with a “defensible excuse” why they opposed the resolution, according to The Hill.