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Exclusive: In Rebuke of Trump, New House Resolution Defends NATO

In an implicit rebuke of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, a bipartisan group of 20 lawmakers have cosponsored a resolution in support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the six-decade-old alliance the real estate tycoon has accused of being “outdated” and obsolete.

NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg holds a press conference during a NATO foreign ministers meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on December 2, 2014. NATO foreign ministers met in Brussels aiming to plot a new course after a "year of aggression" from Ukraine to the Middle East and the end of the alliance's combat mission in Afghanistan. AFP PHOTO/JOHN THYS        (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)
NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg holds a press conference during a NATO foreign ministers meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on December 2, 2014. NATO foreign ministers met in Brussels aiming to plot a new course after a "year of aggression" from Ukraine to the Middle East and the end of the alliance's combat mission in Afghanistan. AFP PHOTO/JOHN THYS (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)
NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg holds a press conference during a NATO foreign ministers meeting at the NATO headquarters in Brussels on December 2, 2014. NATO foreign ministers met in Brussels aiming to plot a new course after a "year of aggression" from Ukraine to the Middle East and the end of the alliance's combat mission in Afghanistan. AFP PHOTO/JOHN THYS (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)

In an implicit rebuke of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, a bipartisan group of 20 lawmakers have cosponsored a resolution in support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the six-decade-old alliance the real estate tycoon has accused of being “outdated” and obsolete.

The resolution, first obtained by Foreign Policy, is an itemized defense of NATO starting with its role as a bulwark against the Soviet Union during the Cold War and ending with its efforts in fighting terrorism and other modern threats. It also notes the alliance’s contributions in Afghanistan, site of the longest war in American history.

“For over six decades, NATO has been a successful intergovernmental political and military alliance,” reads the resolution, expected to be rolled out Wednesday afternoon. “Since the end of the Cold War, NATO has evolved to take on new dangers including terrorism, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and cyber-attacks.”

In an implicit rebuke of presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump, a bipartisan group of 20 lawmakers have cosponsored a resolution in support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the six-decade-old alliance the real estate tycoon has accused of being “outdated” and obsolete.

The resolution, first obtained by Foreign Policy, is an itemized defense of NATO starting with its role as a bulwark against the Soviet Union during the Cold War and ending with its efforts in fighting terrorism and other modern threats. It also notes the alliance’s contributions in Afghanistan, site of the longest war in American history.

“For over six decades, NATO has been a successful intergovernmental political and military alliance,” reads the resolution, expected to be rolled out Wednesday afternoon. “Since the end of the Cold War, NATO has evolved to take on new dangers including terrorism, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and cyber-attacks.”

The lead sponsors of the resolution, Democratic Rep. John Delaney of Maryland and Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, say the timing of the resolution is solely linked to the legislative debate over a new defense authorization bill, but both lawmakers are outspoken critics of Trump.

“His comments are incredibly misguided and lack a historical understanding of what this alliance has done,” Delaney told FP. “He also has a deeply disturbing lack of appreciation for NATO’s role in dealing with terrorism.”

Kinzinger has previously said Trump exhibits a lack of experience on foreign policy and has called on him to “tone down” his rhetoric. “You have to understand that your words have impact,” he said last week.

Trump has repeatedly made headlines for questioning the relevance of NATO and insisting that its members pay more for U.S. protection. Only five of the 28 NATO countries — the U.S., Greece, Estonia, Poland, and Britain — meet the target of spending 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense.

“Either they pay up, including for past deficiencies, or they have to get out. And if it breaks up NATO, it breaks up NATO,” Trump told the editorial board of the Washington Post last month.

Some prominent analysts have agreed with Trump that an overhaul of NATO is necessary — a point echoed recently by Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But establishment Democrats and Republicans have said the businessman’s remarks amount to an abandonment of longtime U.S. allies just as Russian President Vladimir Putin poses an ever greater threat to the NATO member states along his borders.

“Donald Trump’s plan to pull back from some of our most important alliances is reckless and irresponsible,” Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) told FP. “I am proud to support this resolution calling on the U.S. to remain a leader in NATO and stand up to Russian aggression.”

Kinzinger, an Illinois Republican, said NATO has served as “a collective defender and deterrent, while providing solidarity and support against all threats.”

“In a time of radical jihadist terrorism around the world, as well as Vladimir Putin’s belligerent Russia, we must remember the importance of America’s role and participation in NATO,” he said in a statement.

It’s not clear when the resolution will come to a vote. The measure poses a thorny political question for House Republicans, who will have to weigh expressing public support for what many see as a vital institution against the risks of being seen as disloyal to their party’s presumptive presidential nominee. Growing numbers of Republican leaders on Capitol Hill have endorsed Trump in recent weeks despite earlier misgivings.

The Trump campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Other cosigners of the resolution include, Adam Schiff, David Scott, Rick Larsen, André Carson, David Cicilline, Ruben Gallego, Ed Perlmutter, Yvette D. Clarke, Marcy Kaptur, Derek Kilmer, Norma Torres, Matt Cartwright, Gus Bilirakis, Joe Courtney, Dutch Ruppersberger, Jim Costa, and Don Beyer.

Separately, Rep. Lois Frankel, a Democratic member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is offering an amendment to the defense authorization bill that expresses support for U.S. leadership in NATO, according to her spokeswoman.

This post has been updated. 

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