Shaheen Leads Bipartisan Letter with Tillis & 80 Senators Requesting Biden Admin to Swiftly Advance NATO Applications for Sweden & Finland

May 24, 2022

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation and co-chair of the Senate NATO Observer Group, today led a bipartisan group of 80 Senators with Senate NATO Observer Group co-chair, U.S. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), in a letter to President Biden urging him to expedite the Executive Branch’s process to advance Sweden and Finland’s applications for NATO membership and pledging to work with the Administration to ensure swift ratification of the Washington Treaty.

In the letter, the Senators noted that NATO’s expansion will send a clear message to Putin and authoritarian leaders across the globe that the free world stands ready to bolster the alliance and defend our values and sovereignty, including through NATO’s open door policy.

“As Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine has proven, NATO, along with our democratic partners around the world, is more united than ever in opposition to the illegal acts of war waged by President Putin. Expanding NATO to include Finland and Sweden will send a clear message to Vladimir Putin, and any leader that attempts to follow in his path, that the free world stands ready to defend its values and sovereignty. We will also continue to support NATO’s open-door policy, which affirms that new members are welcome to the alliance,” the Senators wrote.

The Senators also affirmed their support for Sweden and Finland’s applications as part of the Senate’s constitutional role to provide advice and consent for NATO enlargement. During this pivotal moment to our global security, they noted this expansion will further strengthen NATO’s military and diplomatic capabilities to address emerging threats, and mutual security assurances will extend to these two governments under the alliance.

“Members of the U.S. Senate take seriously our role in advising and consenting to NATO enlargement, a process that must be approved by all NATO member states. We affirm our support for Sweden and Finland’s applications for membership. In addition, we pledge to work closely with you and with our Senate colleagues to ensure that their applications are swiftly considered and approved by the Senate,” the Senators concluded. “The transatlantic alliance has never been more crucial to global security and stability. The addition of these two important allies to NATO will ensure the alliance’s resilience and readiness, and we look forward to welcoming Sweden and Finland to NATO.”

The full list of 82 Senators on the letter include Senators Shaheen, Tillis, Blumenthal (D-CT), Cardin (D-MD), Carper (D-DE), Coons (D-DE), Duckworth (D-IL), Durbin (D-IL), Hickenlooper (D-CO), King (I-ME), Rosen (D-NV), Wyden (D-OR), Tester (D-MT), Hassan (D-NH), Kelly (D-AZ), Manchin (D-WV), Portman (R-OH), Collins (R-ME), Murkowski (R-AK), Cramer (R-ND), Graham (R-SC), Sasse (R-NE), McConnell (R-KY), Barrasso (R-WY), Ernst (R-IA), Romney (R-UT), Rounds (R-SD), Thune (R-SD), Grassley (R-IA), Hagerty (R-TN), Toomey (R-PA), Hoeven (R-ND), Cornyn (R-TX), Scott (R-SC), Kaine (D-VA), Gillibrand (D-NY), Cortez Masto (D-NV), Sinema (D-AZ), Baldwin (D-WI), Feinstein (D-CA), Murphy (D-CT), Hirono (D-HI), Booker (D-NJ), Merkley (D-OR), Bennet (D-CO), Warnock (D-GA), Murray (D-WA), Leahy (D-VT), Brown (D-OH), Klobuchar (D-MN), Markey (D-MA), Lujan (D-NM), Cotton (R-AR), Burr (R-NC), Inhofe (R-OK), Schatz (D-HI), Schumer (D-NY), Van Hollen (D-MD), Fischer (R-NE), Reed (D-RI), Heinrich (D-NM), Peters (D-MI), Whitehouse (D-RI), Padilla (D-CA), Menendez (D-NJ), Warner (D-VA), Ossoff (D-GA), Moore Capito (R-WV), Young (R-IN), Wicker (R-MS), Risch (R-ID), Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Stabenow (D-MI), Blackburn (R-TN), Sullivan (R-AK), Smith (D-MN), Casey (D-PA), Blunt (R-MO), Marshall (R-KS), Daines (R-MT), Crapo (R-ID) and Warren (D-MA).

Final text of the letter is available here.

As co-chairs of the Senate NATO Observer Group, Shaheen and Tillis recently led a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers in a joint statement of support for Finland and Sweden’s accession to NATO in response to the respective nations announcing their intent to join the transatlantic alliance. Next month, they will lead a bipartisan congressional delegation to the NATO Summit in Spain. The Senate NATO Observer Group was first established over twenty years ago in 1997 by Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) and Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) to serve as a connection between the Administration, NATO and the U.S. Senate. After being disbanded in 1997 due to a lack of NATO enlargement rounds, Shaheen and Tillis re-established the Group in 2018 with an expanded mission to closely monitor and inform Senators outside of national security committees about defense spending commitments of Alliance members, the process of upgrading military capabilities, the Alliance’s counter-terrorism capability, NATO enlargement and the ability of NATO member states to address non-conventional warfare. 

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