February 9, 2006

What’s the Difference Between an Agreement and a Treaty?

Carroll Andrew Morse

WASHINGTON D.C. -- Congressman Tom Tancredo, talking on a panel about immigration issues, made the following point that I had had been previously unaware of. Why are “free trade agreements” agreements and not treaties?

Tancredo’s answer is that if they were treaties, they would require 2/3 approval of the Senate to be ratified, and thus would never pass.

Is this another example of George Will’s creeping expansion of government power when it serves government interests?

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Good Stuff Andrew, keep it up!

BTW, Ryan Sager is also there.

Posted by: m at February 9, 2006 1:36 PM

A treaty becomes the supreme law of the land, beneath only the Constitution itself.

Not sure I want trade agreements placed at that level.

Sort of like the difference between laws and regulations.

Sounds like an OK deal to me.

Posted by: Sam at February 9, 2006 3:34 PM

All federal laws are the Supreme Law of the Land. Treaties have no greater hierarchy than plain-vanilla laws passed by Congress.

Treaties may be approved with 2/3 vote by the Senate only, while "trade agreements," like other laws, require passage by both Houses of Congress. I remember someone asking conservative Judge Easterbrook about the issue in a Federalist Socity convention back in the mid-1990s, and he seemed surprised that anyone had a problem with that, since, as he explained, "the Constitution does not require that all foreign-affair issues be dealth through treaties instead of through laws."

But Tom Tancredo should be glad that free trade agreements are laws, not treaties, since otherwise he would never get to debate them, given that he would never be elected to the U.S. Senate.

Posted by: AuH2ORepublican at February 9, 2006 4:19 PM