Top Senate Democratic and Republican leaders signed a resolution supporting Finland and Sweden joining NATO and urging President Joe Biden to speed up the process.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Monday they co-sponsored the resolution, which is symbolic but signals a strong bipartisan support for the pair of European nations joining NATO, or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
The nonbinding resolution will be annotated Thursday by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The Senate is not expected to pass legislation approving NATO expansion until this summer. It requires the support of two-thirds of the senators and should pass easily.
The four-page resolution – written by the senses. Bob Menendez, DN.J., and Jim Risch, R-Idaho, the leaders of the Foreign Relations Committee – say Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “has radically changed the security situation in Europe,” and that NATO enlargement is essential to ensure the security of the United States and its European allies.
Finland shares an 800 mile border with Russia.
The resolution also calls on the Biden administration to “move quickly” to complete all documents and reports necessary for the Senate to approve NATO expansion, and calls on other NATO members to quickly complete their own process of ratification.
“As the democracies of the world unite against [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and his oligarch cronies, the rise of Finland and Sweden into NATO will be another rebuke to Putin’s murderous attack on Ukraine,” Schumer said in a statement.
“The Ukrainian people continue to fight courageously against Russian aggression and every democracy around the world has an obligation to stand with Ukraine.”
McConnell added: “Finland and Sweden are strong countries with formidable military capabilities that surpass many existing NATO allies. The strong defense funding of both countries means that joining them would greatly strengthen our quest for greater burden sharing within the alliance.
Their statements come just days after Schumer, McConnell and other senators welcomed Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto to the Capitol. The two European leaders also met Biden during their visit to Washington.
On the same day, the Senate voted 86 to 11 to pass $40 billion in military, economic and humanitarian aid to Ukraine as it defends itself against Russia’s bloody invasion.
All 11 negative votes came from Republicans, some of whom said they had not yet decided how they would vote on NATO expansion.
“I want to make sure this doesn’t increase America’s security commitments in Europe. I definitely want to make sure there’s no need for more forces,” Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., told reporters last week. “My view is that we need, overall, to do less in Europe and look to Asia-Pacific in terms of foreign policy challenges.”
Julie Tsirkin and Frank Thorp V contributed.