Pelosi Floor Speech in Support of Resolution Reaffirming America’s Commitment to NATO Article Five

Jun 27, 2017
Press Release

Contact: Ashley Etienne/Caroline Behringer,  202-226-7616

Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi delivered remarks today on the Floor of the House prior to the passage of Resolution 397 which reaffirmed the commitment of the United States to NATO's principle of collective defense, as enumerated in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

Leader Pelosi.  Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.  I thank the gentleman for yielding and I thank him for his extraordinary leadership on the Committee as well as the bipartisan nature of this legislation that Mr. [Ed] Royce and Mr. [Eliot] Engel are bringing to the floor.  I associate myself with the remarks of the distinguished former Chair of the International Relations Committee, Congresswoman [Ileana] Ros-Lehtinen.  

Mr. Speaker, this bipartisan resolution reassures our friends; it rebuts our foes and reminds the world that America’s commitment to NATO's common defense pledge is ironclad.  

When President [Harry] Truman signed the NATO treaty nearly 70 years ago, he called the alliance ‘a long step toward permanent peace in the whole world.’  NATO has guaranteed the security of the American people and our allies for decades.  And now, some people don't remember what those decades were like, fighting the threat of Communism.    

Article Five, the collective defense provision, is the core of that security guarantee.  Article Five, as the Gentlelady [Ros-Letinen] just mentioned, was invoked only once, when America’s allies joined in the fight against Al Qaeda after the September 11 terrorist attacks on our country. 

I, like many of my colleagues, have traveled to Afghanistan and Iraq and other places and seen that our NATO partners have shed blood in the name of Article Five and our common fight against terrorism.   Our commitment to Article Five is a commitment to brave men and women across the world who risk and give their lives for the NATO alliance. 

Previous Administrations, both Democratic and Republican, have strongly and unambiguously stood by NATO and Article Five.  I was very sad, I’ll be very honest with you, my colleagues, when meeting with NATO leaders at the alliance's headquarters in Brussels, a building dedicated to the victims of the 9/11 attacks, [that] President Trump refused to clearly and unequivocally reassure our NATO partners that he would honor Article Five. 

We in this Congress of the United States, acting in a bipartisan way, want to remove all doubt that the U.S. Commitment to the principles of the mutual defense – to a mutual defense embodied by NATO – are ironclad.  I'll keep using that word.  

Every day Putin searches for cracks in our NATO alliance.  We must convey to him that this alliance is ironclad.  Now, just on another subject, related, it's about our national security, while we're glad to be passing this resolution affirming our commitment to Article Five, the bipartisan bill sanctioning Russia languishes in the house. 

While the White House caters to Putin, Congress must hold Russia accountable for its actions by passing the Iran-Russia sanctions bill.  It passed the senate with 98-2 [votes].  98-2.  Strong bipartisan support for a bill that contained the Iran and Russia sanctions. 

We can't go home for the Fourth of July without passing that legislation.  It's my understanding it was a blue slip problem that could be easily resolved.  That's how it was characterized when the President of Ukraine said to us that ‘we really need the Russian sanctions enforced and strengthened.’ 

So let us have the courage to stand up to those who menace the free world and stand by our partners in support of the peaceful democratic and free future for all.  

What we're doing today is very important.  It's not just about a bill.  It's not just about an agreement.  It's about values.  It's about security as a value.  Something we take an oath to protect and defend, and this NATO agreement helps us do that. 

But we must also do what flows from it and say to the Russians, who are the point of NATO, we're going to have sanctions because of your aggression in Eastern Europe and at the same time send that message to the Iranians. 

With that, Mr. Chairman, I urge a very strong unanimous vote for this.  This is something so bipartisan, so wonderful.  It's a good day, it's a good bill.  It gives us all hope.  I urge our colleagues to vote aye.  And call upon the Speaker to bring the other bill to the Floor.  And I hope our Distinguished Chair and Ranking Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee will be able to be part of bringing it to the Floor very soon. 

Thank you.  I yield back. 

# # #