• The Senate does not actually ratify treaties—that is the job of the President
o The Senate provides advice (on the substance) and consent (with two-thirds of the Senate required to approve a treaty)
o The Senate considers on the Senate floor resolutions of ratification rather than the treaty itself
• To ratify a treaty, the President signs and deposits the instrument of ratification
• The resolution of ratification of a treaty can be as short as a paragraph or many pages long. The resolution of ratification of the 2002 Treaty of Moscow was longer than the treaty itself.
o The President submits a treaty to the Senate along with its associated protocol and annexes, as well as an article-by-article analysis of the treaty. The protocol and annexes provided details of verification procedures, for example. There are reports that the New START agreement is about 20 pages but that the associated documents are as much as 150 pages.
o Letters exchanged between the negotiators are often included in the package delivered to the Senate but are not binding, can be in the form of a unilateral statement or can be responded to by the other party either in agreement or disagreement
• The treaty is first considered in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which has sole jurisdiction to write the resolution of ratification
o Other committees such as the Senate Armed Services and Senate Intelligence committees will often hold hearings as well and may express views to the Foreign Relations Committee but do not consider the resolution of ratification
• The resolution of ratification can be changed on the Senate floor through conditions, reservations, understandings and declarations. A majority vote, not two-thirds vote, is required to approve any of these additions.
• The Senate has never added an amendment to a treaty – although it is technically possible for a brief period of time – because the amendment would have to be approved by the other party(ies) to the treaty.
• A unanimous consent agreement must be reached to consider the treaty on the floor
• In the Senate, process (of treaty ratification) is often more important than the substance of treaties
• Timing of Senate action on treaties has greatly varied
o The 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty was ratified within a matter of six weeks
o The 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty took seven months
o The 2002 Moscow Treaty took nine months
o START I took longer because the collapse of the Soviet Union
o New START can be ratified within 5-6 months after it is negotiated if opponents do
not try to hold up treaty approval
• If a treaty is rejected on the floor – as was the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in 1999 — it can be sent back to committee (where it will remain on the Senate calendar) or the President recall it