Senators rejected an amendment that sought to clarify that NATO does not override Congress’s war powers.

The US Senate voted overwhelmingly to ratify Sweden and Finland’s membership in the NATO alliance, another step toward expanding the US-led military bloc after its 30 members formally committed to the move. .

Lawmakers approved the measure 95-1 on Wednesday, in what President Joe Biden called a “historic vote” which “sends an important signal of America’s sustained, bipartisan commitment to NATO.”

“The United States remains committed to the security of Sweden and Finland. We will continue to work to remain vigilant for any threats to our shared security.” the president added, promising to sign accession protocols to formally approve the membership of the two countries.

Missouri Republican Josh Hawley was the only senator to vote against ratification, arguing that “send more forces and resources to Europe to defend new allies” wouldn’t help “strengthen our deterrent posture in the Pacific”, where he and his fellow Republicans have repeatedly warned about the perceived threat posed by China. Meanwhile, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky voted ‘in’, the only other lawmaker not to pass the resolution.

Paul, a libertarian-leaning Republican, also introduced an amendment that would have reaffirmed congressional authority to declare war, emphasizing that the NATO bloc’s collective defense provisions do not supersede the US Constitution. He was defeated 10 -87, with only a handful of Republicans supporting the measure. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) said the amendment could show “cracks” in Washington’s commitments to “mutual defense” and NATO support for Ukraine in its war with Russia.

With Wednesday’s vote and President Biden’s signature, 20 of the 30 NATO states will have ratified Stockholm and Helsinki membership, according to Hill. They require the unanimous consent of the alliance to join, and although both initially faced stiff resistance from Turkey, they appear to have reached tentative agreements to meet Ankara’s terms.

The two Nordic states applied for membership in May, breaking decades of neutrality and citing Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Although Moscow has long expressed concern about NATO’s eastward expansion (Finland shares an 800-mile border with Russia), President Vladimir Putin has stated that Russia “no problems” with either country, and does not view its membership as a “immediate threat”.

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