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3 senators missed the vote on Sweden and Finland joining NATO — but all were in favor, leaving Josh Hawley as a lone dissenter

Business Insider logo Business Insider 8/4/2022 mjankowicz@businessinsider.com (Mia Jankowicz)
Sens. John Cornyn, Jeff Merkley, and Patrick Leahy. Anna Moneymaker/Bonnie Cash/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades / Pool / Getty Images © Anna Moneymaker/Bonnie Cash/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades / Pool / Getty Images Sens. John Cornyn, Jeff Merkley, and Patrick Leahy. Anna Moneymaker/Bonnie Cash/Amanda Andrade-Rhoades / Pool / Getty Images
  • Sens. John Cornyn, Jeff Merkley, and Patrick Leahy missed vote on Sweden and Finland joining NATO.
  • All are supportive of the move and cited personal and health reasons for not being there. 
  • Only Sen. Josh Hawley voted "no," while Sen. Rand Paul abstained, for a result of 95-1-1.

Three US senators were absent for Wednesday vote on Sweden and Finland joining NATO, which passed overwhelmingly with only one senator voting against it.

Republican Sen. Josh Hawley was the only no vote, compared to 95 in favor. Hawley was sharply criticized within the GOP for his stance.

The three absent votes were the Republican John Cornyn, and Democrats Jeff Merkley and Patrick Leahy, who cited personal reasons for not being there.

All three have previously said they support ratifying Sweden and Finland's entry to the NATO alliance, which each individual member state must separately approve. 

Cornyn, a Republican, released a statement on Wednesday saying he was unable to cast a vote while isolating with COVID-19. Senators have to be physically present in the chamber to vote.

Cornyn said: "I applaud these countries for breaking with their long-standing neutrality in order to contribute to the collective security of Europe, and I back their accession unequivocally."


Video: Republican senator will vote no on adding Sweden and Finland to NATO (MSNBC)

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Merkley, a Democrat, tweeted Wednesday that he was traveling to be with his dying mother in Oregon. 

In July, he tweeted approvingly about the progress of the resolution, saying: "I look forward to a stronger NATO with Sweden and Finland."

Leahy, also a Democrat, has been recovering from hip surgery, and on July 29 released a statement saying that he had been discharged from a rehabilitation facility.

He said he would return to the Senate late this week for "key votes," including the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

However, he was among a raft of senators, including Merkley and Cornyn, who signed a letter in May urging President Joe Biden to expedite the process of the two countries joining NATO. 

The only further senator not to vote "yes" was Republican Senator Rand Paul, who voted "present" — a form of abstaining — after an amendment he had proposed didn't pass.

Merkley said that he would be in Washington, DC, to vote on the IRA despite the situation with his mother.

The $740 billion measure was negotiated by Senate Majority Leader and Sen. Joe Manchin, who had been a holdout on similar measures pushed by President Joe Biden.

Unlike the Sweden/Finland vote, the IRA is fiercely opposed by Republicans, and would almost certainly require every Democratic senator to vote in person in order to pass.

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