Engel Floor Remarks on US Commitment to NATO
- As Delivered –
WASHINGTON—Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today delivered the following statement in support of a resolution reaffirming the United States’ commitment to NATO’s principle of collective defense as enumerated in the North Atlantic Treaty’s Article 5 (H.Res.397) on the House floor:
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this measure and I yield myself as much time as I may consume.
“Let me start by thanking the leaders on both sides of the aisle who worked to bring this measure forward: Speaker Ryan and Leader Pelosi; the Majority Leader, Mr. McCarthy; the Minority Whip, Mr. Hoyer; and my friend from California, our Chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Ed Royce.
“Mr. Speaker, NATO has been the most effective alliance of the 20th and 21st centuries. It stood as a bulwark against communist aggression during the Cold War. And since the fall of the Soviet Union, it’s played a critical role in building an integrated Europe that is whole, free, and at peace.
“At the heart of the Alliance is the value enshrined in Article 5: an attack on any ally is an attack on all allies.
“That commitment has been so strong across the decades, that the Alliance never once invoked Article 5 during the long standoff between East and West during the Cold War.
“In fact, Article 5 has only been invoked one time in NATO’s history. When the ruins of the World Trade Center were smoldering in New York City—as the world rallied around the United States after the attacks of September 11th, 2001—NATO allies did what we always knew they would: they said the attack on us was an attack on all of them as well.
“Since then—for nearly 16 years—American troops have fought and shed blood and died alongside men and women serving in the uniforms of our NATO allies.
“Mr. Speaker, this isn’t a commitment we as Americans can take lightly.
“So while I’m glad President Trump finally affirmed the commitment of the United States to Article 5, I think it’s important for Congress to do it as well.
“The Administration’s hot-and-cold approach to the Alliance caused a lot of unneeded heartburn for our allies and caused even the best of friends to question our commitment.
“Now, NATO is not a thing that can just be thrown in with everything else. It’s very important to us. And we should allow our NATO allies to meet their commitments laid out at the NATO summit in Wales. It’s very important that we do that.
“Right now especially, we need to be clear on our commitment to NATO. The danger that Russia poses to the Alliance—to western democracy and an integrated, unified Europe—is the greatest test in a generation.
“If there are cracks in the surface, you can bet that Vladimir Putin will do all he can to exploit them. Fracturing western unity is his top goal, and the United States needs to be strong in our commitment to NATO.
“So today, the House is saying we will not waver. We’re sending a message to our allies and partners—and to Moscow—that a wager against NATO is a losing bet.
“I’d like to see the House take an even tougher stance against Moscow, and immediately pass the Senate’s Russia sanctions bill. The legislation won overwhelmingly bipartisan support in the other body, and I’m confident we could act on it swiftly in the House.
“But with this measure today, we’re saying with one voice that Article 5 is sacred, that NATO is strong, and the resolve of the United States and our allies won’t be weakened by a bully sitting in Moscow.
“Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I reserve the balance of my time.”