While President Trump is in Brussels attacking NATO members for not spending enough on defense and calling Germany “a captive” of Russia for its support of a new pipeline to deliver Russian gas, lawmakers in Washington are standing up for the 69-year-old trans-Atlantic alliance.
The House is scheduled to take up a measure Wednesday reaffirming U.S. support for NATO. House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters on Capitol Hill that “NATO is indispensable. It is as important today as it ever has been. We’re reflecting that in a resolution that we’re bring to the floor today.”
The Senate voted 97-2 Tuesday night to approve a similar, non-binding resolution to reaffirm the U.S. relationship with and support for NATO.
Democratic Congressional leaders issued a rare joint statement harshly condemning Trump’s remarks. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and her Senate counterpart, Chuck Schumer said:
“President Trump’s brazen insults and denigration of one of America’s most steadfast allies, Germany, is an embarrassment. His behavior this morning is another profoundly disturbing signal that the President is more loyal to President Putin than to our NATO allies.”
Ryan said he shared Trump’s concerns over a Russian natural gas pipeline and Germany’s spending on defense.
“Every time I’ve met with our allies in Europe I’ve raised those same concerns about Nord Stream II,” the name of the pipeline, Ryan said. “The president is right to point out that our NATO allies need to adhere to their commitments which is 2 percent of GDP for defense. Germany is the largest economy in the EU. Germany should be committing 2 percent to defense like they agreed to at the Wales conference.”
While Germany has not yet met that goal, it has until 2024 to do so.
Still, that appears not to be enough for Trump, who told NATO leaders Wednesday they should be spending 4 percent of their GDP on defense. American officials say the U.S. is itself short of that mark, spending 3.3 percent of its GDP on defense. Trump made the same demand of NATO allies at last year’s summit.
NPR’s Kelsey Snell contributed to this story.