NATO Head Invited to Address Congress as Trump Mulls Fee Hikes

President Trump speaks as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg looks on during a memorial ceremony at NATO headquarters in Brussels on May 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) today invited NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg to address a joint session of Congress in a bipartisan affirmation of the alliance.

The invitation comes after a report that Trump is pondering a “cost plus 50” — the cost of stationing American troops in a host country, paid by that country, plus an additional 50 percent — plan to charge allies.

“It is my honor as Speaker, on behalf of the bipartisan leadership of the House of Representatives and the Senate, to extend to you an invitation to address a Joint Meeting of the two houses of Congress, assembled in the Chamber of the House of Representatives at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, April 3, 2019,” Pelosi wrote to Stoltenberg.

“During this critical time for the United States, NATO and the European Union, the U.S. Congress and the American people look forward to your message of friendship and partnership, as we work together to strengthen our critical alliance and advance a future of peace around the world,” she added.

April 4 marks the 70th anniversary of NATO. Stoltenberg would deliver the first address to Congress by a foreign leader since Democrats retook control of the House.

Asked Sunday on Fox News if there has been response from allies regarding Trump’s plans to get them to pay more, National Security Advisor John Bolton referenced Obama-era dealing with NATO.

“Well, we’re doing a lot, as you know, in NATO to get the allies to increase their spending, to meet the commitment they themselves made in Wales in 2014 to get to 2 percent of gross national product by 2024,” Bolton said. “And that wasn’t an accidental decision at Wales in 2014. It was after the Russians moved into Eastern Ukraine and our friends in Europe began to realize that the history had not actually ended. It was still going on. And they were living on a continent with a real threat.”

“This is also true in terms of base rentals and other costs that the president has looked at. I think he’s following through on many of the things Barack Obama said. He’s just being more effective.”

In January, the House passed a resolution 357-22 reinforcing support for the NATO alliance and blocking the use of funds to withdraw from the alliance.

All of the “no” votes were cast by Republican lawmakers.