Senate Consideration of Treaties [Updated April 10, 2003]   [open pdf - 24KB]

"The consideration of treaties and nominations constitutes the executive business of the Senate. When the President submits a treaty to the Senate, the treaty and any supporting materials are referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Paragraph 3 of Senate Rule XXIX requires that all treaties and 'all remarks, votes, and proceedings thereon shall also be kept secret, until the Senate shall, by their resolution, take off the injunction of secrecy.' At the time the treaty is referred to committee, the Senate typically agrees by unanimous consent to remove the 'injunction of secrecy.' Treaties, unlike bills and other legislative measures, may remain before the Senate from one Congress to the next. Paragraph 2 of Rule XXX states in part that 'all proceedings on treaties shall terminate with the Congress, and they shall be resumed at the commencement of the next Congress as if no proceedings had previously been had thereon.' Thus, if the Foreign Relations Committee fails to report a treaty before the end of a Congress, the treaty remains on the committee calendar during the next Congress. If the committee has reported a treaty but the Senate has not completed floor consideration of it when the Congress ends, the treaty is recommitted to the committee, and the committee must report it again before the Senate may consider it on the floor."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, 98-384
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