Although much of the attention regarding Rep. Justin Amash’s recent votes has been directed at his opposition to Kate’s Law and defunding sanctuary cities, on Wednesday, the Congressman voted in favor of resolution H. Res 397, “Solemnly reaffirming the commitment of the United States to the North Atlantic Treaty Organizations principle of collective defense as enumerated in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty”.
The resolution ultimately passed 423-4, with the support of all Democrats present, and all but four conservative Republicans – libertarian Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY), the Freedom Caucus’ Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) and two paleoconservatives, Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) and Rep. Jimmy Duncan (R-TN).
Although Amash often posts explanations for his votes on social media, he has yet to do so regarding H. Res 397. However, he has emerged as a Russia critic as of late, backing Democrat calls for an independent commission to investigate the administration’s supposed connections to the Russian government, perhaps providing the reasoning for his vote.
Massie, who is typically closely aligned with Amash, explained his opposition to the resolution in a statement to the Cincinnati Enquirer: “The move to expand NATO in Eastern Europe is unwise and unaffordable. Yesterday’s resolution was in direct conflict with President Trump’s campaign assertion that NATO is obsolete.”
On the campaign trail last year, Donald Trump suggested that he could rescind U.S. military support for NATO member states that did not meet the alliance’s minimum defense spending requirement of 2% of their GDP, a threat that some view as a violation of NATO’s Article 5, that members of the alliance are all committed to defend one another if attacked. Many libertarians agreed with him on this issue, arguing that the U.S. was subsidizing European welfare states through NATO. After Trump was elected, he has continued his push for NATO members to meet the minimum spending requirement, which is currently met by just five of the twenty-eight members of NATO. By affirming the U.S. commitment to Article 5, Congress is limiting the degree of leverage Trump has in negotiations with the remaining twenty-three.