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Congressional Democrats launch bid to block Trump anti-NATO moves

January 22, 2019

Emboldened House Democrats, pushing back against President Trump’s criticism of the NATO alliance, have mounted a drive to keep the U.S. in the pact and block President Trump from spending any money on a potential withdrawal.

Rep. Jimmy Panetta, California Democrat, flanked by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, unveiled legislation in support of NATO Tuesday, saying the bill “rejects efforts to withdraw from NATO and prohibits any funds to be used as such.”

Mr. Panetta said NATO was needed not only a mutual defense pledge but also as a bulwark against increasing Russian aggression.

The NATO Support Act would block any administration effort to withdraw the U.S. from NATO and prohibits providing funding from contributing to the U.S. withdrawing from the alliance.

Democratic Reps. Tom Malinowski of New Jersey and Chrissy Houlahan of Pennsylvania are co-sponsors of the bill.

Earlier this week, it was reported that President Trump had considered leaving NATO multiple times last year. The president has repeatedly questioned the level of financial support other key NATO powers are devoting to the alliance and whether U.S. taxpayers are getting their money’s worth. The House Democrats say they back Mr. Trump’s demand that NATO allies such as Germany and France meet a pledge to devote 2 percent of GDP to defense by 2024.

“That doesn’t mean we want to get out of NATO,” Mr. Panetta said. “In fact that would be a historic mistake because what we have to realize is that NATO is not just a transactional relationship.”

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