Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer today spoke on the Senate floor regarding the importance of the NATO alliance. Below are his remarks:
Mr. President, President Trump is on his way today to attend the annual summit of NATO leaders in Brussels. The president should use the occasion to reinforce and build up the transatlantic alliance rather than tearing it down.
Since its founding nearly 70 years ago, NATO has become the most powerful and successful security partnership ever created. The first half of the 20th century’s marked by unprecedented human suffering; by depression, war, and genocide. After World War II, in the face of Soviet aggression and expansion, NATO showed the world a different way. Working together with other international institutions, NATO established the political and economic rules of the road that have promoted our national security and our mutual prosperity.
This institution now finds itself under incredible and completely unnecessary strain – from Russia’s interference in democracies across Europe and including the United States; from China’s rapacious economic aggression and geopolitical provocations; from the evolving threat of terrorism; and, shockingly, from within.
Our president – President Trump – has routinely berated the leaders of our NATO allies in far harsher terms than the president has ever criticized President Putin of Russia, a dictator who invaded a sovereign country, murdered journalists, political dissenters, directed a nerve agent attack in the United Kingdom, and continues to prop up the brutal Assad regime in Syria. He has shown an eagerness to impose tariffs against Europe but a reluctance to sanction President Putin and his cronies. He’s accepted the word of President Putin over the consensus of 17 agencies of the American intelligence community.
And for reasons that continue to baffle so many, President Trump will follow up the summit with a one-on-one meeting with President Putin in Helsinki, a mere 100 miles from the Russian border.
Before leaving for Europe this morning, the president summed up his agenda. President Trump said: “I have NATO. I have the UK… And I have Putin. Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of all. Who would think?”
Who would think?
President Trump: considering all you have said and done in the past two years; considering your kid glove approach to President Putin that has everyone here scratching our heads – any one of us could have predicted Putin would be your easiest meeting. But every one of us is in fear of what Putin might get out of you. Every time the president has negotiated one-on-one – with President Xi, with Kim Jung Un – our rival has gotten the better of him and of our country. Many of us fear what President Trump will do alone with Putin, what he’ll concede, what Putin will get out of him.
The President of the United States should be a clarion voice for our values, bolstering our allies, isolating our adversaries. President Trump has, unfortunately, and alarmingly, been the opposite.
Mr. President, the values at the foundation of our NATO alliance are worth fighting for: free markets, free and fair elections, representative government, rule of law. These are the values that protect our citizens from the encroachment of tyranny. President Trump ought to recognize the power that resides in the values shared by our NATO allies, as well as the strategic sense of using NATO as a powerful bulwark against the abuses of resurgent Russia.
Later this afternoon, the Senate will vote on a motion to instruct conferees on the defense bill to reaffirm Congress’ enduring and unequivocal support for NATO. I hope it receives the overwhelmingly bipartisan, if not unanimous, approval that it so deserves.