The US president Donald Trump posted a tweet yesterdays which reads as follows:

I am allowing Japan & South Korea to buy a substantially increased amount of highly sophisticated military equipment from the United States.

Does the President need approval from congress to export sophisticated weapons (potentially even B2 or F22 planes) to foreign countries?

1 Answer 1


It appears that the President can propose military exports, but approval is up to congress if the dollar amount is above a certain number (not idea what 14 million buys, but it actually seems rather low in the context of 'sophisticated weaponry'):

Under Section 36(b) of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA), Congress must be formally notified 30 calendar days before the Administration can take the final steps to conclude a government-to-government foreign military sale of:

  • major defense equipment valued at $14 million or more,
  • defense articles or services valued at $50 million or more,
  • or design and construction services valued at $200 million or more
  • How about ,,,,if the congress doesn't approve, what happens? The president can't sell the weapons?
    – jinwoo lee
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 1:40
  • 1
    @jinwoolee in terms of the law, so it seems. Though the law hasn't stopped presidents in the past (see: iran-contra scandal)
    – user1530
    Commented Sep 6, 2017 at 1:52
  • This is off a bit. The requirement to formally notify Congress doesn't mean that the President has to have the approval of Congress. The section does allow Congress to issue a joint resolution banning the sale if they so desire, but it does not require them to explicitly approve it. Any such ban must occur within 30 days for most countries or within 15 days for NATO countries, Japan, Australia, South Korea, Israel, or New Zealand. If the President determines that an emergency exists which necessitates the sale, Congress' review process may not ban it.
    – reirab
    Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 22:17
  • @reirab I guess it's a tacit approval?
    – user1530
    Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 22:19
  • See the paragraph at the end of 22 USC 2776(b)(1) for more information. Or all of 22 USC 2776 if you're interested in all of the minutiae.
    – reirab
    Commented Sep 14, 2017 at 22:20

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