Executive Agreements

July 1, 1943

Report Outline
Executive Agreements vs. Treaties of Peace
Nature of the Executive Agreement
Binding Character of Executive Agreements
The Record of Executive Agreements

Executive Agreements vs. Treaties of Peace

Postwar Settlements Through Executive Agreements

As The War in Europe enters its decisive phase, public attention in the United States is being directed more and more to the difficulties that may arise when peace treaties are submitted to the Senate with a request for its consent to their ratification. Little notice has been taken of the possibility that many international readjustments after the present war may be effected through executive agreements, rather than by formal treaties which need approval by two-thirds majorities in the upper house.

Total victory by the United Nations and unconditional surrender by the Axis powers would remove any necessity for such a peace conference as was held at Versailles after the close of the last war, and any need of signing peace treaties with Germany, Italy or Japan. Postwar arrangements, both political and economic, may be worked out by the United Nations alone. To be binding upon the United States, such arrangements—if cast in the form of executive agreements—may not have to be submitted to the Legislative Branch at all; at most, they would require approval by simple majorities in the two houses of Congress.

Senate Concern for Maintenance of Its Authority

The reported intention of the Executive Branch to make wide use of executive agreements in effecting postwar settlements has been cited several times in Senate debate at the 1943 session of Congress. “We are being told,” said Senator O'Mahoney (D., Wyo.) during debate on extension of the Trade Agreements Act, “that it will be unnecessary to end this war by a treaty of peace.” In debate on the Panama Claims Agreement, Senator Clark (D., Mo.) said it was “common talk in the State Department that there is no intention of submitting to Congress the terms of the peace settlement”; that it is planned instead to arrange the peace terms by executive agreement “subject only to the President's approval.” In the opinion of Senator Taft (R., O.): “The Constitution wisely provides that treaties must be approved by the Senate, but more and more the President is whittling away that provision of the Constitution.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Jan. 29, 1988  Treaty Ratification
Mar. 27, 1987  Bicentennial of the Constitution
Jan. 31, 1986  Constitution Debate Renewed
Mar. 16, 1979  Calls for Constitutional Conventions
Jul. 04, 1976  Appraising the American Revolution
Sep. 12, 1973  Separation of Powers
Jul. 12, 1972  Treaty Ratification
Apr. 19, 1967  Foreign Policy Making and the Congress
Mar. 05, 1947  Contempt of Congress
May 10, 1945  The Tariff Power
Jul. 01, 1943  Executive Agreements
Jun. 01, 1943  Advice and Consent of the Senate
May 24, 1943  Modernization of Congress
Jan. 18, 1943  The Treaty Power
Aug. 24, 1942  Congress and the Conduct of War
May 09, 1940  Congressional Powers of Inquiry
Nov. 09, 1939  Participation by Congress in Control of Foreign Policy
Apr. 21, 1937  Revision of the Constitution
Feb. 24, 1936  Advance Opinions on Constitutional Questions
Oct. 04, 1935  Federal Powers Under the Commerce Clause
Jun. 19, 1935  The President, the Constitution, and the Supreme Court
Sep. 10, 1928  The Senate and the Multilateral Treaty
Dec. 16, 1926  The Senate's Power of Investigation
Oct. 03, 1924  Pending Proposals to Amend the Constitution
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Diplomacy and Diplomats
International Law and Agreements
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