Senate votes down measure to rein in NATO war-making authority

Drew Angerer, Getty Images

The Senate on Wednesday rejected an amendment proposed by Senator Rand Paul to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have clarified that Article 5 of the NATO treaty does not obviate the need for Congress to declare war.

Article 5 holds that an attack on any NATO member must be treated as an attack on the whole alliance, as part of the collective defense commitment.

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) introduced the measure as NATO membership for Ukraine is being discussed. If Ukraine is accepted to be a member of NATO, that means any attack on Ukraine, including by Russia, the country they are currently at war with, is an attack on all of NATO and would require all of NATO to respond. That includes the U.S.

Paul’s amendment would have required congressional authorization of a war triggered by Article 5, but a bipartisian group of Senators overwhelmingly rejected that proposal.

The amendment stated that “The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area. Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.

“An agreement by the U.S. to take “such action as it deems necessary” to help an ally under attack is NOT tantamount to an unqualified agreement to go to war—much less to go to war without adhering to constitutional requirements applicable to military action,” Senator Mike Lee tweeted Wednesday after the amendment’s defeat.

The final vote was 83 to 16. The 16 that voted to clarify the proposal are Braun, Cruz, Daines, Kennedy, Hagerty, Hawley, Johnson, Lankford, Lummis, Lee, Marshall, Paul, Rubio, Schmitt, Tuberville, and Vance.


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