The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article II, Section 2, Clause 2: "[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; …." This provision in the United States Constitution assures the American people that our nation will make no treaties without two-thirds of the Senators approving of it.
"A treaty is a written contract between two or more governments respecting matters of mutual welfare, such as peace, the acquisition of territory, the defining of boundaries, the needs of trade, the rights of citizenship, the ownership or inheritance of property, the benefits of copyrights and patents, or any other similar subject….
"Once a treaty is made, it becomes the established law. Thereafter, it requires both branches of Congress to abrogate it….
"There are some treaties which require the concurrence of the House of Representatives. This would include any treaties which involve the expenditure of funds. Until the House has approved a bill authorizing such expenditures the treaty cannot be implemented.
"When a treaty is presented to the Senate it may 1) approve, 2) reject, 3) approve with amendments, 4) approve on condition that specified changes will be made, and 5) approve with reservations or interpretations." (W. Cleon Skousen in The Making of
- The Substance and Meaning
of the Constitution, 548) America
"The Treaty Clause has a number of striking features. It gives the Senate, in James Madison's terms, a `partial agency' in the President's foreign-relations power. The clause requires a super majority (two-thirds) of the Senate for approval of a treaty, but it gives the House of Representatives, representing the `people,' no role in the process.
"Midway through the Constitutional Convention, a working draft had assigned the treaty-making power to the Senate, but the Framers, apparently considering the traditional role of a nation-state's executive in making treaties, changed direction and gave the power to the President, but with the proviso of the Senate's `Advice and Consent' ….
"Another reason for involving both President and Senate was that the Framers thought American interests might be undermined by treaties entered into without proper reflection. The Framers believed that treaties should be strictly honored, both as a matter of the law of nations and as a practical matter, because the
could not afford to give the great
powers any cause for war…. United
"The fear of disadvantageous treaties also underlay the Framers' insistence on approval by a two-thirds majority of the Senate. In particular, the Framers worried that one region or interest within the nation, constituting a bare majority, would make a treaty advantageous to it but prejudicial to other parts of the country and to the national interest…." (Michael D. Ramsey in The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, 205)