If there is collision between the president and Congress, can Congress restrain the president in foreign policy making?

It's very difficult, but sometimes Congress can influence the president on foreign policy. This website goes into a lot of details about the ways the Congress and the Executive branch conduct foreign policy.


One of the key phrases is:
"In nearly all of these circumstances, Congress can either support the President's approach or seek to change it. In the case of independent Presidential action, it may be very difficult to change policy in the short term;. . ."

Be sure to study this section near the bottom of the report "Legislative Restrictions/Funding Denials."

Congress does have a major influence on foreign affairs. This is part of our checks and balances system.

1. Congress appropriates the money for the armed forces, foreign aide and the running of our embassies in foreign countries. They can reduce or eliminate the Presidential requests for funds. Just think about Congress giving funds for our war in Iraq.
It was said that Theodore Roosevelt wanted to send the American fleet around the world to show off US power. Congress refused to grant him the necessary money. Roosevelt stated that he had enough money to send the fleet halfway around the world and would leave them there. Congress granted the money,

2. All treaties must be approves by the Senate by a 2/3 vote although executive agreements need not be approved.

2. The Senate has to approve all major appointments by a 2/3 vote as well. This includes the Security of State who is in charge of our foreign policy and the major heads of our armed forces.

3. The President need to obtain the consent of Congress to send our armed forces out of the country for more than a certain number of days.

The other part of the equation which you did not ask about is how the President may curtail Congress although one part of that answer was given above.

In the event of a collision between the president and Congress on foreign policy making, Congress does have some ability to restrain the president. While it can be challenging to change policy in the short term, Congress can still influence the president's approach to foreign policy. One way Congress can exert its influence is through legislative restrictions and funding denials.

For example, Congress has the power to appropriate funds for the armed forces, foreign aid, and embassy operations in foreign countries. They can choose to reduce or eliminate the president's requests for funds, which can significantly impact the execution of foreign policy. A notable example is when Congress debated and ultimately approved funding for the Iraq War.

Moreover, Congress plays a role in treaty approval. While executive agreements do not require Senate approval, all treaties must be approved by a 2/3 vote in the Senate. This gives Congress the opportunity to exercise its influence on foreign policy decisions made by the president.

Additionally, the Senate has the authority to approve major appointments related to foreign policy, such as the Secretary of State and heads of the armed forces. These appointments require a 2/3 vote in the Senate, allowing Congress to have a say in shaping the direction of foreign policy.

Furthermore, Congress must give its consent for the president to deploy armed forces out of the country for an extended period of time. This serves as another check on the president's ability to independently conduct foreign military operations.

It is important to note that while Congress has the power to restrain the president in foreign policy making, the president also has means to curtail Congress. For instance, the president can veto legislation passed by Congress, though Congress can override a veto with a 2/3 majority vote in both chambers.

In summary, while it is challenging for Congress to restrain the president in foreign policy making, it does have several key powers to exert influence and shape the direction of foreign policy. Through legislative restrictions, funding denials, treaty approval, major appointment confirmations, and consent for military deployment, Congress can act as a check on the president's foreign policy decisions.