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It is my understanding that US President can designate any nation a Major non-Nato ally after thirty days of notifying the Congress and is not bound to seek Congress' approval for this act as per Title 22 of the United States Code.

Why is the President expected to notify the Congress at all if he has the ultimate authority? I understand that it provides a check over President's power and creates transparency in such a major decision. But at the end of the day, it is still unilateral.

Can Congress, legally, stop the President from designating another country as a Major Non-Nato ally? If not, Can Congress repeal the existing MNNA status of a Nation? In short, exactly how much of sway does the Congress have over this process?

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Congress cannot stop the President from designating another country as a "Major Non-NATO Ally" since the President can designate it through a Presidential Determination. Congress has to be notified as it is mandated under the US Code. Since Congress cannot block the designation, it's likely meant to notify Congress officially. This was the case in 2012, when President Obama designated Afghanistan as a "Major Non-NATO Ally".

As this article by The Hill states:

The Obama administration has 30 days to officially notify Congress on Afghanistan's new status, according to federal law. However, congressional approval is not required before Kabul can assume its role as a major non-NATO ally.

(emphasis mine)

However, Congress can introduce a bill to revoke any country with such a status. There have been bills introduced in Congress that tried to revoke Pakistan’s status as a MNNA, in 2012 and in 2017.

H.R.3000 was introduced in 2017 to terminate the designation of Pakistan as a MNNA and the text of the termination is as follows. It also prevents the President from issuing a new determination to designate that particular country as a MNNA again unless a set criteria is met.

(1) the designation of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan as a major non-NATO ally pursuant to section 517(a)(1) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2321k(a)(1)) or any other provision of law is hereby terminated; and

(2) the President may not issue a separate designation of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan as a major non-NATO ally pursuant to section 517(a)(1) of such Act or any other provision of law unless the President submits to Congress a certification described in subsection (b).

  • +1. unless the President submits to Congress a certification described in subsection (b)., What certificate is that? Is it like the Certificate American President used to issue before Pakistani nuclear tests, that Pakistan didn't have nukes and didn't want them? Judging by Congress' ban on issuing another designation without certification, Is it correct to Assume that Congress can pre-empt President's plans for that with similar conditions? – NSNoob Jul 20 '17 at 6:48
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    @NSNoob It's actually stated in the bill in subsection (b). There's 4 criteria that the President needs to determine that Pakistan has met and send it to Congress before they can issue any determination. – Panda Jul 20 '17 at 7:15
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Why is the President expected to notify the Congress at all if he has the ultimate authority?

The president's authority isn't ultimate; it is statutory, which means that it is delegated to the president by congress. A condition of that delegated authority is to report to congress when it is exercised.

Congress has delegated the authority to act without a case-by-case review, but they can revoke this authority or modify the conditions by changing the law. This normally requires the president's cooperation, but if there are enough votes to override a veto, the law can be changed without the president's consent.

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