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Kaine, Gardner, Reed, McCain Introduce Bill To Prevent The President From Leaving NATO

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Jack Reed (D-RI), and John McCain (R-AZ) introduced a bipartisan bill to explicitly prohibit the President of the United States from withdrawing from NATO without Senate approval. The bill requires the President to seek the advice and consent of the Senate to modify or terminate U.S. membership in NATO and formalizes the Senate’s opposition to withdrawing from the treaty. If the President attempts to withdraw from NATO without Senate approval, this bill also authorizes the Senate Legal Counsel to challenge the Administration in court.

“When I’ve traveled overseas to visit with American servicemembers, I’ve met troops from our NATO allies who fought alongside ours, and I’ve heard their powerful stories of sacrifice. More than 1,100 soldiers from NATO countries have been killed in Afghanistan since 9/11. Yet President Trump calls these nations our foes and disparages their leaders while he cozies up with our adversaries. The shared threats we and our partners face from Russia, terrorists, cyber-attacks, and nuclear weapons make NATO more important than ever. Just as it was required to join NATO, Senate approval should be required before this President – or any U.S. President - can withdraw,” said Senator Kaine, a member of the Senate Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees.

“NATO is the most successful military alliance in history, and any effort to abandon it would be a monumental mistake,” said Senator Gardner, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “I support the United States’ continued commitment to the alliance, including the provisions that require the armed support of all members in case of an attack on any one member, as was exercised after the 9/11 attack against the United States. As the Constitution requires and this legislation reaffirms, any change proposed by this administration or future administrations regarding America’s standing in this alliance can be done only with the advice and consent of the Senate.” 

“The NATO alliance has many strategic benefits, but first and foremost it makes America safer.  No one should ever doubt the United States’ resolve in meeting its commitments to the mutual defense of the NATO alliance and this bill will ensure that President Trump does not withdraw from NATO without Senate approval,” said Senator Reed, the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee

“This bill has become necessary because some of our closest allies have come to question the reliability of President Trump’s commitment to collective self-defense and security guarantees.  Regardless of the President’s tweets or statements, there remains strong, bipartisan support for and commitment to the NATO alliance in Congress.”

“For the last seven decades, the United States and our NATO allies have served together, fought together, and sacrificed together for a vision of the world based on freedom, democracy, human rights and rule of law. Put simply, the transatlantic alliance has made the United States safer and more prosperous, and it remains critical to our national security interests,” said Senator McCain, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “Regrettably, President Trump’s mistreatment of our closest allies has raised doubts about America’s commitment to the transatlantic alliance and the values of defense. The United States Senate provided its advice and consent to the North Atlantic Treaty, and remains overwhelmingly supportive of the transatlantic alliance. In the future, the Senate must be prepared to defend its constitutional role. This legislation is urgently required to ensure that no president can withdraw the United States from NATO without the constitutionally required advice and consent of the Senate.”

President Trump recently made remarks attacking American allies at the NATO summit, reigniting the debate over U.S. commitment to NATO. The Senate voted 97-2 this month to reaffirm its support for NATO.

The full text of the bill can be viewed here.