Skip Content
U.S. Flag

About Treaties

The United States Constitution provides that the president "shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two-thirds of the Senators present concur" (Article II, section 2). Treaties are binding agreements between nations and become part of international law. Treaties to which the United States is a party also have the force of federal legislation, forming part of what the Constitution calls ''the supreme Law of the Land.''

The Senate does not ratify treaties. Following consideration by the Committee on Foreign Relations, the Senate either approves or rejects a resolution of ratification. If the resolution passes, then ratification takes place when the instruments of ratification are formally exchanged between the United States and the foreign power(s).

The Senate has considered and approved for ratification all but a small number of treaties negotiated by the president and his representatives. In some cases, when Senate leadership believed a treaty lacked sufficient support for approval, the Senate simply did not vote on the treaty and it was eventually withdrawn by the president. Since pending treaties are not required to be resubmitted at the beginning of each new Congress, they may remain under consideration by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for an extended period of time.

In recent decades, presidents have frequently entered the United States into international agreements without the advice and consent of the Senate. These are called "executive agreements." Though not brought before the Senate for approval, executive agreements are still binding on the parties under international law.

For information on current treaties being considered by the Senate go to Legislation & Records.
Return to Powers & Procedures