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August 13, 2015

Congress Asked for Better Deals Hundreds of Times in the Past

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In an Op-Ed in The Wall Street Journal, a law professor and former lead State Department attorney for nuclear affairs outlines the many precedents for congressional revisions to international agreements.

Orde Kittrie writes:

Congress has flatly rejected international agreements signed by the executive branch at least 130 times in U.S. history. Twenty-two treaties were voted down. According to 1987 and 2001 Congressional Research Service reports, the Senate has permanently blocked at least 108 other treaties by refusing to vote on them.

Moreover, the 1987 CRS report and an earlier study in the American Journal of International Law note that more than 200 treaties agreed by the executive branch were subsequently modified with Senate-required changes before receiving Senate consent and finally entering into force


The historical precedents for Congress rejecting, or requiring changes to, agreements involve treaties or other legally binding international agreements. The Iran deal, formally titled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, is unsigned and not legally binding. Mr. Kerry has repeatedly referred to it as a “political agreement.� Nonbinding, unsigned political agreements receive less deference and are considered more flexible than treaties or other legally binding international agreements. Congress should be comfortable sending one back for renegotiation.

Posted by SC at August 13, 2015 11:32 AM


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