Resolution of Ratification: Senate vehicle for consideration of a treaty.
Executive proposals – in the form of resolutions of ratification – that must be submitted to the Senate for approval by two-thirds of the senators present. Treaties today are normally sent to the Foreign Relations Committee for scrutiny before the Senate takes action. The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations has jurisdiction over all treaties, regardless of the subject matter. Treaties are read three times and debated on the floor in much the same manner as legislative proposals. After approval by the Senate, the president formally ratifies treaties. Treaties not approved by the Senate at the end of a congressional session do not die. Instead, they can be considered by a future Congress unless withdrawn by the president.
A treaty is an executive document sent by the president to the Senate for its consideration and approval.
Reservations are formal declarations that modify the effect of one or more of the provisions of the treaty. The Senate sometimes also includes other additions to the resolution of ratification called “understandings,” “interpretations,” or “declarations” that do not modify the force of the treaty but are intended to further clarify its meaning. Each of these matters requires only a simple majority for adoption.
– Reservations are “specific qualifications or stipulations which change U.S. obligations without necessarily changing treaty language.”
– Understandings are “interpretive statements that clarify or elaborate the provisions of the treaty but do not alter its language.”
– Declarations are “statements of the Senate’s position, opinion or intentions on
matters relating to issues raised by the treaty, but not to its specific provisions.”
“Treaties and Other International Agreements: The Role of the United States Senate,” S. Prt. 106-71 (January 2001).
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- Executive Session / Executive Business / Secret Session (CongressionalGlossary.com)
- Executive Calendar (CongressionalGlossary.com)
- § 8.30 Congress and the Executive: Ratification of Treaties and Foreign Policy, § 8.150 Congress and Foreign Policy: Treaties and International Agreements, in Congressional Deskbook
- Chapter 8.D. Treaties in Congressional Procedure
- Treaties in Force (TIF) – State Department
- Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
- List of United States treaties – Wikipedia
- “Senate Consideration of Treaties,” CRS Report 98-384 (6-page PDF)
- “Bills, Resolutions, Nominations, and Treaties: Characteristics, Requirements, and Uses,” CRS Report 98-728 (3-page PDF)
- “Bills, Resolutions, Nominations, and Treaties: Characteristics and Examples of Use,” CRS Report R46603 (14-page PDF)
- “Why Certain Trade Agreements Are Approved as Congressional-Executive Agreements Rather Than as Treaties,” CRS Report 97-896 (13-page PDF)
- “Arms Control and Nonproliferation: A Catalog of Treaties and Agreements,” CRS Report RL33865 (82-page PDF)
- “Reservations, Understandings, Declarations, and Other Conditions to Treaties,” CRS In Focus IF12208 (11-page PDF)
- “What Happens if H.R. 1 Conflicts with U.S. Tax Treaties?,” CRS Legal Sidebar LSB10047 (4-page PDF)
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