July 19 (BP) — House lawmakers have overwhelming passed legislation in support of Finland and Sweden joining the NATO defensive military alliance.
Along with expressing support for the Nordic nations’ applications to join the military pact, the legislation also urges all NATO members to do the same.
It also opposes “any attempt by the Russian Federation to act in an adverse way in response to Finland and Sweden’s sovereign and historic decision to apply to join NATO.”
The vote was held exactly two months after Finish and Swedish envoys at the NATO headquarters in Brussels handed the military alliance’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, their nations’ applications, officially initiating their membership process.
The two countries made the historic decision to end decades of maintaining a military neutrality stance to join the defensive pact following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has blamed NATO expansion as an impetus behind his war and has made repeated threats against the Nordic nations if they join.
However, the war has had the opposite effect, House Democratic leader Steny Hoyer said from the House floor on Monday, as the alliance will soon be adding “two extraordinary members of the European community.”
“Together, Finland and Sweden, will add substantial capabilities to NATO’s collective defense and make the Baltic region much more secure against Russian aggression,” he said. “But much more than that they will add value because of their values to our alliance.”
The Maryland Democrat was among a bipartisan delegation that visited Europe, including NATO founding member and Nordic nation Denmark, in April, and he told lawmakers Monday that he can attest that the addition of Finland and Sweden will create “a Scandinavian bloc.”
He said this bloc within the NATO alliance “will be more than the sum of its parts, significantly contributing to the peace and stability of Europe and to security of all NATO nations, including the Untied States.”
The vote also comes after the Senate committee on foreign relations passed a similar bipartisan resolution last month.