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Senate votes to support NATO ahead of Trump summit

Senate votes to support NATO ahead of Trump summit

Lawmakers on Tuesday overwhelmingly voted in favor of a motion supporting NATO, as President Trump continues to criticize the alliance ahead of his summit in Europe.

The nonbinding motion, which came as the Senate voted to reconcile its version of the annual defense policy bill with that of the House, expresses the Senate’s support for NATO and calls on negotiators to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to it.

The 97-2 vote in the Senate comes as Trump heads to Brussels. He will also travel to the United Kingdom and meet one-on-one with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki during his trip.

GOP Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Mike Lee (Utah) voted against the measure.

Democratic Sen. Jack Reed (R.I.) proposed the measure, calling the U.S. support for NATO “ironclad.”

Trump has long been critical of NATO members for failing to meet their defense spending commitments, and has ramped up the criticism in the days ahead of the summit.

The president suggested in a tweet on his way to Brussels that other NATO members should reimburse the U.S. for what he has called the nation’s “unfair” contributions to the alliance.

NATO members agreed in 2014 to increase their defense spending to 2 percent of their gross domestic product by 2024. But Trump has incorrectly suggested that this spending is meant to be on NATO as a whole, not on the countries’ individual defense.

The attacks also come as Trump has frustrated key allies like the European Union, Canada and Mexico with steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.