Jul 07 2023
MADISONVILLE, La. – Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) today joined Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) and a bipartisan group of 33 other senators in urging Pres. Joe Biden to ensure that North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members follow through on their past commitments of defense spending ahead of the organization’s summit.
Throughout last year, only seven NATO members met the defense goal, including the U.S. Excluding the U.K., none of the other members who met the requirement are major economies.
“Failure of many of our allies—including some of NATO's largest members—to meet commitments of 2% of GDP on defense has the potential to undermine American support for the alliance, severely limits Europe's ability to contribute to our shared interest in defending against Russia, and is a source of long-term instability in Europe, not to mention frustration for American taxpayers. We are not asking our NATO allies to do anything they have not already pledged to do,” the senators wrote.
The U.S., which accounts for roughly half of the combined alliance’s GDP, pays 70 percent of NATO's combined defense expenses.
“The lack of sufficient progress is politically and economically unsustainable. American citizens rightly question why our government disproportionately bears the burden—decade after decade—for Europe's defense,” they continued.
“That disparities in NATO member defense spending have persisted for so long is incompatible with genuine partnership,” the lawmakers concluded.
Last August, the Senate unanimously adopted an amendment to require NATO members to spend at least two percent of their GDP on defense.
In 2014, during the Obama-Biden Administration, all NATO members pledged to maintain or meet the two percent defense spending guideline within 10 years.
Kennedy penned this op-ed urging Germany to pull its weight against Russia by contributing what it promised to NATO and also spoke on the Senate floor about the need for Germany to follow through on its defense spending pledge.
The full letter is available here.