Pelosi Inviting NATO Chief Stoltenberg to Address Congress

(Bloomberg) -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is extending an invitation to NATO’s secretary general to address a joint session of Congress in a reaffirmation of congressional support for the alliance even as President Donald Trump questions its usefulness and relevance.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy are supporting the invitation for Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to speak amid events in Washington to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the pact, according to a person familiar with the plans who asked not to be named because they are not yet public.

Pelosi Inviting NATO Chief Stoltenberg to Address Congress

Foreign policy is one area where Republicans have been willing to challenge Trump, particularly in support of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which was established at the beginning of the Cold War. While the alliance has traditionally enjoyed strong GOP support, Trump has criticized NATO nations for not spending more on defense and he’s raised questions about whether the U.S. should automatically come to the defense of every member nation.

In an interview with Breitbart News on Monday, Trump reiterated his complaints.

“We shouldn’t be paying for this,” Trump told Breitbart, referring to NATO. “We pay for their military defense and then they take advantage of us on trade in addition. It used to be in order to have the trade we take care of them -- but they get us both ways.”

Recently the administration has been drawing up demands that allies such as Germany, Japan and eventually any other country hosting U.S. troops pay the full price of American soldiers deployed on their soil -- plus 50 percent or more for the privilege of hosting them, according to a dozen administration officials and people briefed on the matter.

Joint sessions of Congress to receive foreign leaders are sometimes used to send a political message. French President Emmanuel Macron’s address to Congress last year included a last-ditch -- but ultimately doomed -- plea for Trump to keep the U.S. in the Paris climate change accord. Former Republican House Speaker John Boehner was widely criticized for inviting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress without coordinating with then-President Barack Obama.

Stoltenberg, who was previously Norway’s prime minister, brings a mix of perspectives to current U.S. foreign policy debate. Norway increased defense spending under his tenure, which Trump has repeatedly sought from other NATO countries. Trump recently quoted Stoltenberg in a tweet demanding that transatlantic allies contribute more to defense.

Yet Stoltenberg is also a vocal advocate for multilateral cooperation to tackle global challenges like climate change, trade and Russian aggression, even as the Trump administration has diverged from traditional allies on these issues.

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