Russian aggression helped bring Republicans and Democrats together on Wednesday, as the Senate voted 95-1 to endorse letting Finland and Sweden join NATO. A two-thirds vote would have been sufficient, but Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had been lobbying his members, the New York Times reports. Since Russia invaded Ukraine, McConnell has argued for alliances and a substantial military footprint abroad. His trips this year to Ukraine, Sweden, and Finland, he said, were intended to demonstrate that former President Donald Trump's opposition to such alliances no longer rules. "If any senator finds a defensible excuse to vote no," McConnell said Wednesday on the Senate floor, "I wish them good luck."
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer invited the ambassadors from Finland and Sweden to sit in the gallery during the Senate debate and vote, per CNN. The next step is President Biden signing a treaty ratification document. All 30 NATO member nations have to approve the nations' admittance for it to take place; 22 have so far. The invasion is what led to the applications by Finland and Sweden, and Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened to retaliate against the two nations if they go through with joining the alliance. "Their accession will make NATO stronger and America more secure," McConnell said. The only senators to not support membership were Republicans Josh Hawley, who voted no, and Rand Paul, who voted present. (Read more NATO stories.)