Congressional Executive Agreement Definition

A congressional executive agreement is a legally binding agreement between the President of the United States and a foreign government. This type of agreement allows the President to bypass the normal process of seeking approval from Congress, instead using the executive power granted to them by the Constitution to negotiate and enter into agreements that cover subjects such as trade, military alliances, or mutual defense.

Unlike treaties, which require two-thirds support from the Senate for approval, executive agreements do not require any approval from Congress. However, the Constitution does give Congress the power to regulate foreign commerce and declare war, which can serve as a check on executive agreements. Additionally, Congress may pass legislation that would override an executive agreement.

Congressional executive agreements have been used in a variety of ways throughout history, including during World War II when President Franklin D. Roosevelt entered into agreements with the United Kingdom and other allies, and more recently, in 2015 when President Barack Obama entered into the Iran nuclear deal without approval from Congress.

One benefit of congressional executive agreements is that they can be negotiated and entered into more quickly than treaties, which can take years to negotiate and ratify. However, because they do not require the same level of approval from Congress, there is some debate over whether they are constitutional.

Another issue with congressional executive agreements is transparency. Because they do not require congressional approval, they are not subject to the same level of public scrutiny as treaties, which must be submitted to the Senate for review and debate. As a result, some critics argue that the use of congressional executive agreements undermines the democratic process.

In summary, a congressional executive agreement is a legally binding agreement between the President of the United States and a foreign government that allows the President to bypass the normal process of seeking approval from Congress. While they can be negotiated and entered into more quickly than treaties, there is debate over their constitutionality and concerns over transparency.