A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation Thursday that would prevent President Donald Trump from leaving North Atlantic Treaty Organization without the Senate’s consent.
Democratic Sens. Tim Kaine of Virginia and Jack Reed of Rhode Island as well as Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Cory Gardner of Colorado announced the bill that “formalizes the Senate’s opposition to withdrawing from the treaty” on Thursday, according to a statement.
The legislation also gives the Senate Legal Counsel the ability to take the administration to court if it attempts to withdraw from the military alliance without the Senate’s say-so.
Concern over the president’s commitment to NATO has increased significantly following comments he made earlier this month that appeared to call into question the United States’ commitment to Article 5 – the clause that assures military response from member nations.
If Article 5 is invoked by NATO, member countries are required to help defend the allied country under attack, which was brought up during a recent interview Trump had with Fox News.
“Why should my son go to Montenegro to defend it from attack?” Tucker Carlson asked Trump.
Trump replied: “I’ve asked the same question. Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people. … They are very strong people. They are very aggressive people, they may get aggressive, and congratulations, you are in World War III.”
“I understand, but that’s the way it was set up,” he continued. “Don’t forget, I just got here a little more than a year and a half ago, but I took over the conversation three or four days ago and I said you have to pay.”
McCain, who serves as the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in statement that Trump’s “mistreatment of our closest allies has raised doubts about America’s commitment to the transatlantic alliance and the values of defense.”
“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,” the statement continued.
Trump did sign the NATO communique, which explicitly endorsed Article 5, while at the NATO summit earlier this month.
“Any attack against one Ally will be regarded as an attack against us all, as set out in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty,” the communique said.
“More than 1,100 soldiers from NATO countries have been killed in Afghanistan since 9/11,” Kaine said in the statement. “Yet President Trump calls these nations our foes and disparages their leaders while he cozies up with our adversaries.”
He added, “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.”