A bipartisan group of senators have introduced a bill that would prevent any president from leaving NATO without first seeking Senate approval.
What does the bill say?
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) introduced the bill, which would require the president to get Senate approval before modifying or terminating the nation's membership in NATO.
According to the text of the bill:
The President may only withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty, in accordance with its terms, pursuant to the advice and consent of the Senate, provided that two thirds of the Senators present concur, or pursuant to an Act of Congress.
It also states explicitly that:
Congress opposes any effort to withdraw the United States from the North Atlantic Treaty.
Doesn't the president already need Senate approval?
The president already needs Senate approval to make treaties, but there are no such rules when it comes to leaving those treaties. Traditionally, the Senate has been involved in this process as well, but there has been one notable exception.
During his time in office, former President Jimmy Carter terminated a defense treaty with Taiwan without Senate approval, in order to improve the standing of the U.S. with China. A U.S. District Court judge ruled at the time that Carter had acted outside his authority, and needed to get the approval of a two-thirds majority in the Senate to terminate a treaty.
However, this was later reversed by the federal appeals court. The Supreme Court refused to weigh in on this matter.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was formed in 1949 as a counterbalance to the growing threat from the Soviet Union. Article Five of the treaty states that an attack on any single member will be regarded as an attack on all members. To date, Article 5 has only been invoked once: by the United States after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.
Trump has frequently criticized the NATO alliance. In a tweet from July 11 he asked “what good” NATO was.
Reuters reported that Trump had threatened to pull the U.S. out of NATO if the other members did not increase their spending by January. However, French President Emmanuel Macron contradicted this report to The Associated Press, saying that Trump had “never at any moment, either in public or in private, threatened to withdraw from NATO.”