July 17, 2018
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) accepted an appointment to the Senate North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Observer Group. This bipartisan group of United States Senators will closely monitor and inform Senators outside of national security committees about defense spending commitments of Alliance members, the process of upgrading military capabilities, the Alliance’s counter-terrorism capability, NATO enlargement and the ability of NATO member states to deter attacks and address non-conventional warfare; the group will also help Senator King keep Maine people informed of NATO’s work.
“After the President spent his week in Europe dividing our allies and embracing Putin, it is clear that the Senate must play a larger part in strengthening our relationships with NATO allies – and that is exactly what the Senate NATO Observer Group can do,” said Senator King. “The President has the Constitutional authority to conduct foreign policy, but Congress also has the responsibility to conduct oversight to ensure that our NATO commitments, and those of our allies, are being upheld – and given Russia’s recent history of using military force in attempts to change international borders and more subtle tactics to undermine democratic political institutions, those international commitments to the continued strength of NATO are vital to America’s national security. The reestablishment of the Senate NATO Observer Group will help ensure that we are prepared to stand with our friends in the face of evolving threats to national security – particularly Russian efforts to sow discord in the alliance, threaten its neighbors, and interfere in democratic elections – and reaffirms America’s commitment to this critical alliance.”
The Senate NATO Observer Group is led by Senators Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and was re-established earlier this year with the support of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. It was first established in 1997 to serve as a connection between the Administration, NATO and the U.S. Senate. The Senate NATO Observer Group was re-established in 2002 with a focus on possible new additions to NATO, but was disbanded in 2007 when NATO did not bring in new member states. This new iteration of the group has an expanded mission to monitor NATO commitments and capabilities, and ensure that the Senate is kept informed of NATO work.