Mr. Trump arrived in Europe on Tuesday for a NATO Summit and meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which is scheduled to happen later in the week. Trump has outwardly criticized members of the alliance for not paying more on defense and said that the U.S. has been taken advantage of.
Ahead of Trump’s visit on Tuesday, lawmakers worked quickly to pass a bill supporting NATO. According to the Army Times:
‘Hours after Trump landed in Brussels, the Senate passed a non-binding measure, 97-2, that expresses support for NATO, its mutual self-defense clause and calls on the administration to rush its whole-of-government strategy to counter Russia’s meddling in the U.S. and other democracies.’
Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member, proposed the measure, “which is technically a motion to instruct lawmakers who will reconcile the House and Senate defense policy bills for 2019.” The only senators to vote against the measure were Rand Paul and Mike Lee.
Senator Reed spoke on the Senate floor, calling America’s commitment to NATO “ironclad.” He described Trump’s upcoming meeting with Putin as “ill-advised.” Reed said:
‘I join my colleagues this afternoon in support of the motion which sends an important message to our allies, our partners, and our adversaries that the United States is unwavering in its support of Europe free from the threat of external aggression and in support of the rules-based international order that has promoted international security for decades.’
The Army Times reported:
‘The Senate Foreign Relations Committee was expected Wednesday to debate a separate measure supporting NATO. One proposed amendment to it, from panel chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., would reaffirm support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and condemn “Russia’s illegal invasion and attempted annexation of Crimea.” A second proposed amendment from Sen. Robert Menendez, the panel’s ranking member, would reaffirm support for U.S. sanctions against Russia.’
Senator Menendez (D-N.J.) gave a speech on the floor, saying:
‘In the absence of U.S. presidential leadership, I want to make clear to our allies abroad, as well as our adversaries in the Kremlin, as to where members in the United States Senate stand.’
Quite ardently, he went on to say:
‘President Trump’s slap-dash approach to foreign policy, borne out of heated campaign rallies, instead of thoughtful Cabinet meetings, has real implications for our national security. Such reckless behavior by President Trump has weakened the United States on the global stage and created a more dangerous world for our citizens and our troops serving abroad.’
Menendez continued to rip Trump about his meeting with Putin, saying that Trump “would rather deal with an autocrat than negotiate with democratically elected leaders.” The senator said:
‘Let’s be clear: Meeting with a thug intent on undermining American democratic values should not be easy and it should not be chummy.’
Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) said the Senate may have gone too far with mandatory sanctions against Russian entities, which may have left Trump little negotiating room on other matters. Johnson said that the sanctions “don’t seem to be having a real horrible economic effect, not in Moscow anyway.”
According to the Army Times:
‘Speaking with reporters and on Twitter from his flight, Trump repeated his call for NATO countries to fulfill their goal of spending 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense by 2024. The summit is expected to be marked by disagreements over trade and military spending.
‘After the NATO summit in Brussels, Trump will travel to the UK and then Helsinki to meet with Putin. The meeting will be closely watched to see whether Trump will rebuke or embrace Putin, who has repeatedly denied the allegations of election meddling in spite of evidence to the contrary.’
Here’s what Twitter had to say about Trump’s trip:
Featured image by Yuri Gripas/Bloomberg via Getty Images