Senate Majority Cuts Off Trump With New National Security Protections

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A majority in the U.S. Senate has approved an amendment to the latest National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that if fully enacted would create new protections around U.S. membership in NATO by requiring the Senate’s agreement before the country made any withdrawal. An act of Congress would also suffice under these standards.

These new rules would safeguard specifically against some of the political inclinations possible for Trump and others allied with him, as Donald has repeatedly clamored against the cross-country alliance. In the vote, held July 19, 65 members were in favor, while 28 were opposed. Those in opposition, meaning they favored leaving the U.S. membership in NATO potentially more vulnerable to a president’s whims, included Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.), and others.

Included in the agreements that comprise the foundation for NATO is an expectation that member countries come to the defense of another member if that other country is attacked, an alliance for mutual defense that’s widely understood to provide a key foundation for the Western world’s defense against potential incursions from figures like Vladimir Putin. The prospective membership of Ukraine in NATO, which would have obligated the U.S. and other countries to assist with its defense against Russia to a significantly greater extent above the weapons already provided, has been a point of intense contention.

Another area of dispute has been the ostensible gaps seen in other NATO members’ individual levels of defense spending. Though an expectation has been established of each nation eventually reaching the equivalent of two percent of that individual country’s GDP, compliance with that ambition has not been universal. In the Senate, Mike Lee (R-Utah) also recently proposed an amendment to the latest NDAA that would have blocked all but two percent of the designated U.S. aid for Ukraine in the next fiscal year until other members of NATO reached the sought levels of defense spending. The Senate rejected Lee’s initiative.