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Congressional-executive agreement

In domestic United States law, there exists a distinction between treaties, congressional-executive agreements and sole executive agreements. The distinction relates to how the agreement is ratified, whether the agreement supersedes existing law, and how the agreement may be terminated. Treaties are ratified by a two-thirds vote of the Senate, congressional-executive agreements by a normal Act of Congress, and a sole executive agreement is ratified by the President alone.

A congressional-executive agreement is an agreement with a foreign power that has been approved by Congress and the United States. Unlike a treaty, in the US constitutional sense of that term, it does not does not supersede existing law and does not require a two-thirds vote by the Senate, but rather is enacted as an ordinary law which requires majority votes by both the House and Senate followed by approval by the President.

CEA's are often used to implement trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and United States accession to the World Trade Organization. It is used for this purpose because the requirement for two-third support in the Senate would make it difficult to ratify and implement these agreements and it avoids the necessity for going to Congress twice for approval for foreign issues.

Some constitutional scholars such as Lawerence Tribe[?] have argued that CEA's are unconstitutional as they circumvent the treaty ratification scheme outlined in the United States Constitution. The United States courts have rejected this argument, ruling that such agreements are not treaties.

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