NATO: Congress Addresses Expansion of the Alliance

On April 30, 1998, the Senate gave its consent to the amendment of the North Atlantic Treaty to admit Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary by a vote of 80-19. The President signed the Resolution of Ratification on May 22, 1998. On March 12, 1999, the three countries formally joined the alliance. On July 8, 1997, NATO named Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary as candidate states for admission to the alliance. On June 3, 1997, Representative Benjamin Gilman and others proposed the European Security Act of 1997 ( H.R. 1758 ). It was engrossed in H.R. 1757 , the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, on June 11, 1997. The Conference Report ( H.Rept. 105-432 ) was sent to the House floor March 10, 1998. The House passed H.R. 1757 by voice vote on March 26, 1998, and the Senate by a vote of 51-49 on April 28, 1998. The bill became the European Security Act of 1998, and is Title XXVII of the omnibus appropriations measure that the president signed on October 21, 1998 ( P.L. 105-277 ; H.R. 4328 ). The European Security Act endorses NATO enlargement; urges that the door to alliance membership be kept open should a first round of enlargement occur; specifically urges consideration of the Baltic states, Bulgaria, and Romania; outlines recommendations for arms control negotiations that affect new and current members; and states that the European allies should pay the bulk of the costs of enlargement. The act states that no commitments be made to Russia over deployments of conventional and nuclear forces in new member states that would put such states in a category different from that of current members. In addition, NATO should make no commitments to Russia limiting the construction of defense infrastructure or deployment of reinforcements in a new member state's territory. On May 27, 1997, NATO and Russia signed the "Founding Act," which outlines their future security relationship. On February 11, 1998, President Clinton sent the protocols of accession to the Senate (Treaty Doc. 105-36). The Senate Foreign Relations Committee drafted a Resolution of Ratification, which it adopted by a vote of 16-2 on March 3, 1998, and sent to the full Senate, accompanied by Exec. Rpt. 105-14. At the April 23-25 NATO summit in Washington, the allies did not invite new members, but reaffirmed their policy of keeping the door open to qualified candidates.