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Memorandum on Proposed Bills Dealing With Treaties and Executive Agreements.

May 23, 1952

To all Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies:

Subject: S.J. Res. 122--"to impose limitations with regard to executive agreements"--and S.J. Res. 130--"proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relative to the making of treaties and making of executive agreements."

The two Senate joint resolutions referred to above have been called to my attention. These resolutions concern matters which directly affect the activities and responsibilities of almost every department and agency of the executive branch.

A sub-committee of the Senate Committee on Judiciary began hearings on S.J. Res. 130 on May 21. I am advised that the executive departments and agencies have not been invited to appear before the committee or to present their views concerning the resolution. In a matter of such fundamental importance it is vital that the Congress know the views of the executive branch. Accordingly, I request the head of each department and agency to examine the effects which these joint resolutions would have on matters coming under the jurisdiction of his department or agency, and to prepare an official statement of views concerning them. I also request the head of each department and agency to ask the Committee promptly for an opportunity to appear and testify at the earliest practicable date.

The White House staff will cooperate in any way that may be desired in this matter.

Any agency which believes that it is not affected directly enough by the resolutions to warrant presentation of its views with respect to them, is requested to send me, at the earliest possible date and in any event not later than one week from the receipt of this memorandum, its reasons for not seeking to testify.

The importance of the issues raised cannot be over-estimated. The constitutional amendment proposed in S-J. Res. 130 is not routine, and it is not limited in its effect to the imposition of restraints upon the President or agencies of the executive branch. This proposed amendment and the provisions of S.J. Res. 122 vitally affect the powers of the Federal Government as a whole and have a bearing on the welfare of every State and every person in our country. Action by the Congress on either of these resolutions should not be taken without the fullest consideration and debate.

The executive branch has a responsibility to see to it that it does not default on its responsibilities as a part of the Federal structure which was created by all of the States at the time our Constitution was adopted.


Note: S.J. Res. 122 was referred to the Senate Committee on foreign Relations, S.J. Res. 130 to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Neither resolution was voted on by the Senate.

Harry S Truman, Memorandum on Proposed Bills Dealing With Treaties and Executive Agreements. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230769

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