The Senate on Wednesday overwhelmingly voted down an amendment to the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would declare NATO’s Article 5, which outlines mutual defense commitments, does not override congressional war powers.
The amendment, introduced by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), states: “It is the sense of Congress that Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty does not supersede the constitutional requirement that Congress declare war before the United States engages in war.”
The amendment failed in a vote of 16-83 and received no support from Democrats. “It should have been an easy vote to affirm the Constitution, to vote against affirming the Constitution actually places doubt in the Constitution. But it was defeated,” Paul wrote on Twitter after the vote.
The Senate also approved an amendment introduced by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) that requires Senate approval for a president to leave NATO in a vote of 65-28, with only Republicans opposing the measure.
The Kaine amendment reads: “The President shall not suspend, terminate, denounce, or withdraw the United States from the North Atlantic Treaty… except by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, provided that two-thirds of the Senators present concur, or pursuant to an Act of Congress.”
Versions of the Kaine and Paul amendments were previously introduced as stand-alone bills. When Paul and several other Republicans introduced legislation to reaffirm congressional war powers over NATO commitments, he noted that while NATO members are required to assist each other in the event of an attack, military action is not mandated.
“Furthermore, Article 11 of the NATO Treaty states that the provisions of the Treaty are to be carried out in accordance with each country’s respective constitutional processes,” Paul said in a statement last month.
Once the Senate passes its version of the NDAA, it needs to negotiate the finalized version with the House. Both versions will allocate $886 billion for military spending, but a partisan battle is expected to ensue as Republicans added amendments to the House version relating to social issues in the military, including abortion, transgender surgeries, and diversity policies. The House passed its version of the NDAA last Friday in a narrow vote of 219-210.