The US House of Representatives has approved a bill expressing congressional support for NATO, hours after the highest ranking US diplomat for Europe resigned his post.
The bill, which received bipartisan support Tuesday in the house winning 357-22 votes, prohibits using funds to withdraw from the alliance while stating it’s US policy to remain part of it.
Just hours before the vote, outspoken NATO supporter A. Wess Mitchell created yet another vacancy at the top levels of the government when he resigned as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs.
The vote and resignation come amid tensions with European leaders over the US’s commitment to organizations like NATO and the transatlantic alliance more generally.
The New York Times, citing federal government sources, recently reported that Trump put forward the idea of withdrawing the US from NATO last year. Washington’s withdrawal would effectively destroy the 70-year-old alliance.
“The NATO alliance is central to American security and maintaining peace and stability around the world,” House majority leader Steny Hoyer said in a statement before Tuesday’s vote.
Mitchell’s departure will be effective from February 15. He had served in the post for just over a year.
The move was announced by the State Department on Tuesday. Elisabeth Millard, a career public servant, will take over the job in a temporary capacity.
The Washington Post quoted a letter from Mitchell in which he said he had “completed what I set out to do in taking this position” and was looking forward to spending more time with his family.
The administration has been haemorrhaging top officials almost since US President Donald Trump took over the White House two years ago. Jim Mattis resigned at the end of last year as defence secretary, following strong disagreements with Trump’s Syria policy.