The Constitution gives to the Senate the sole power to approve, by a two-thirds vote, treaties negotiated by the executive branch. The Senate does not ratify treaties. Instead, the Senate takes up a resolution of ratification, by which the Senate formally gives its advice and consent, empowering the president to proceed with ratification. The Senate of the First Congress set the precedent for how it would handle treaty consideration. When President George Washington visited the Senate Chamber in August 1789 to seek advice and consent on a pending treaty, he became frustrated when the senators referred the treaty to committee for further discussion. Another 130 years would pass before another president of the United States personally delivered a treaty to the Senate. On July 10, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson asked for a quick consent to the Treaty of Versailles.
Important Early Treaties