Issues Raised by Foreign Relations Authorization Bill

Headnotes: 

Provision in foreign relations authorization bill conditioning an authorization for appropriations on the requirement that an entity controlled by the legislative branch be included at Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe negotiations would unconstitutionally infringe on the President’s exclusive authority to conduct negotiations on behalf of the United States abroad and unconstitutionally deprive the President of his constitutionally mandated control over the disclosure of the content of negotiations.

The unconstitutional condition may be severed from the remainder of the provision authorizing appropriations and the rest of the bill.

At least in the context of legislation that infringes on the separation of powers, the President has the constitutional authority to refuse to enforce a statutory provision that he believes is unconstitutional. Because this unconstitutional requirement is severable, the President may enforce the remainder of the provision, while refusing to enforce the unconstitutional portion.

Updated July 9, 2014