What Is An Executive Agreement And Why Are They Often Controversial


The U.S. Constitution does not explicitly give a president the power to enter into executive agreements. However, it may be authorized to do so by Congress or may do so on the basis of its foreign relations management authority. Despite questions about the constitutionality of executive agreements, the Supreme Court ruled in 1937 that they had the same force as treaties. As executive agreements are made on the authority of the president-in-office, they do not necessarily bind his successors. Dependence on contractual power has declined since World War II, as presidents increasingly turn to the use of executive agreements as a means of ensuring unilateral control of U.S. foreign relations. If the president acts unilaterally, the agreement is called a “single executive agreement.” If the president acts with the agreement of a simple majority of both houses of Congress, the agreement is called “legislative and executive agreement.” Presidents have a “margin of appreciation” in deciding whether they wish to pursue an international agreement in the form of a treaty, a single executive agreement or in the form of a legislative and executive agreement. The Speaker`s decision generally depends on political factors, including the likelihood of obtaining Senate approval. Presidents have often chosen to exclude the Senate from concluding some controversial and historic international pacts on the channel of executive agreements, including the basic destructive agreement with Britain in 1940, the Yalta and Potsdam accords of 1945, the Vietnam Peace Agreement of 1973 and the Sinai Accords of 1975. Treaties and executive agreements are developed and signed several times a year. Originally, contracts were much more frequent than executive agreements; But that is not the case today.

After the Second World War, executive agreements were used much more than treaties. Many thought this was due to the increasing difficulty of obtaining two-thirds Senate approval. The Speaker has the option of entering into exclusive executive agreements without the approval of the House of Representatives or the Senate. The transition from contracts to executive agreements has undoubtedly eliminated the checks and balances that the founders eliminated when drafting the contractual clause to be imposed on the executive. The counter-argument is that the founders intended to give the president a broader attribution of power than they enshrined the vesting clause in the Constitution. President Dwight D. Eisenhower rejected the amendment on the grounds that it would obstruct the presidency`s conduct of foreign policy. In a letter to his brother Edgar, a lawyer who supported the resolution, Eisenhower said it would “paralyze the executive to the point of disempowering us in world politics.” The Eisenhower administration was well aware that most Republicans accepted the proposal and that its opposition was therefore carefully measured. After failing to reach a compromise with Bricker troops, Eisenhower sought the support of Democrats in the Senate. Georgian Senator Walter George introduced his own amendment, which confirmed the constitutional supremacy over treaties and executive agreements. In a key passage that reflected widespread opposition to the widespread use of unilateral executive agreements, De George`s proposal would have necessitate the implementation of legislation on executive agreements (but not for treaties) in the United States. The Eisenhower administration was strongly committed to defeating the Bricker and George proposals, in part because the councillors believed they would remove important prerogatives from the president and transfer foreign affairs authority from the executive to the legislature.