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it does so, in so far as it makes their co-operation a legal duty, it imposes a legal and political responsibility; but the constitutional responsibility belongs to congress alone, i.e., it cannot hide itself behind the cabinet. As the administration can present no bills, and consequently cannot be made responsible either for the public revenue or for the manner and means of its collection, so also, in regard to the public expenditures, it can make no demands, but can simply work out estimates of expenses and make suggestions. So far as the initiative is concerned, the administration has no will of its own, but
, only an opinion. The only right or duty the secretaries can have in the matter is to report as experts upon the business affairs of the state.
After making such a report — when congress permits or desires it - the whole matter is constitutionally and legally at an end from the standpoint of the administration. The president and the heads of the departments cannot even take a stand against a proposition which is opposed to their well considered recommendations, while it is under discussion in congress. And when the final conclusions of congress reach the president, he can send back the bill concerned only as a whole. Only the particular bill, and not the whole budget, for the entire budget is not framed at once. The appropriations are made in groups, each of which is covered by a separate so-called appropriation bill. These bills always originate in the house of representatives and they are in fact prepared by
1 The legislative, executive and judicial expenses appropriation; civil expenses appropriation; consular and diplomatic appropriations; army appropriation; Indian appropriation; pension appropriation; military academy 'appropriation. To these are added special appropriations and a greater or less number of deficiency appropriations.
REE EL. PARY
its “committee on appropriations."! They must emanate from this house, because the constitution provides: “ All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the house of representatives."
It has always been undisputed in the United States that “bills for raising revenue” include all the so-called
money bills,” but there have often been different views as to the legitimate application of this doctrine.” The house of representatives has always asserted that its functions embraced the framing of the appropriation bills, and the senate has never succeeded in its occasional efforts to maintain the contrary. A literal interpretation of the constitutional provisions must evidently decide the matter against the claims of the house of representatives, and, too, the discussions of the Philadelphia convention tell more against than in favor of these claims. But Seward was right in saying, February 7, 1856, in the senate, that the fact that from the beginning the house claimed the framing of the appropriation bills as its privilege and that the senate did not contest it, was weightier than these arguments. The question whether the doctrine should be narrowed or widened is, however, as experience has taught, one without practical significance, as the constitution itself reduced the idea, borrowed from the constitutional law of England, to a merely formal privilege of the house of representatives. The paragraph goes on to say that “the senate may propose, or concur with, amendments, as on other bills.” In practice, however, the privilege of the house of representatives has become a public wrong of no slight consequence. The senate's amendments are not discussed in the house, but simply rejected. The senate persists, and the bill is referred to a conference committee in which both houses are equally represented. The proposals of this committee
i The committee on appropriations bears the same relation to the expenditures that the committee on ways and means does to the public revenue. There are thus two budget commissions and no budget. Congress does not place the revenue and expenditures in juxtaposition and thus make a simple whole of the public finances. How far congress has made it the duty of the secretary of the treasury to elaborate a sketch of the budget for it, was explained in discussing the organization of the treasury department.
2 See especially the debate in April, 1872, Congressional Globe, 2d session, 42d Congress, p. 2105 et seq.
3 Cong. Globe, 1st sess., 34th Cong., 376. When the senate, despite this, sent some appropriation bills to the house, the latter simply laid them on the table.
. cannot be amended. They must be adopted or rejected as a whole. As action upon them is generally postponed until towards the end of the session, the house adopts the committee's report, because it shrinks from the responsibility of letting an entire appropriation bill go to wreck on account of a few questions of detail. While thus, in the senate, the appropriations suggested by the house are carefully investigated, amended at will and perfected, the house by its own beloved rules subjects itself to a certain moral compulsion by which it is forced to assent to the conclusions reached by only three of its members and a like number of senators. Occasionally indeed, one of the general appropriation bills has failed to pass. But neither of the houses will lightly undertake this responsibility, because the constitution provides that no money shall be drawn from the treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law (art. I., sec. 9, $ 7). The administration therefore has no constitutional right to apply the moneys in the treasury to meet any public needs whatever, even if they be the most urgent, which congress has not provided for by making appropriations. In the event, therefore, of the failure of an appropriation bill, a most wretched and unendurable state of affairs must quickly come to pass.
1 See, for instance, my Constitutional History, V., 414.
Even under the most favorable circumstances the administration can get along for but a few months, because the appropriations are made only for one year. This is not due, however, to any constitutional necessity. On this point the constitution contains only the provision that congress may “ raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years” (art. I., sec. 8, § 12). Congress, therefore, unquestionably has a right to substitute a biennial for the annual budget. It is, however, a different question, whether the provision just quoted implies the power of congress — except as to the army — to have a triennial or quadrennial budget. While it can certainly make appropriations for a longer time, it also certainly cannot frame an entire budget which shall be good for more than two years. And it can make one good for two years only when it does so at the beginning of its own existence. No congress can bind subsequent congresses in such a way as to curtail their constitutional powers. And it is, moreover, evident not only that no congress would permit its predecessor to deprive it of its right of framing a budget, but that it could not constitutionally renounce its independent exercise of this right. Even a
1 The constitution keeps a few appropriations beyond the control of congress. By several acts, however, the number of the so-called "permanent appropriations” has gradually grown to between twenty and thirty. Some years ago the senate passed a bill which repealed these altogether, save those for the president's salary, the salaries of the federal judges and the interest on the public debt. The assent of the house of representatives, however, could not be obtained, because the bill would have endangered the continuance of the act known as the “Bland bill,” which requires the annual coinage of at least twenty-four million silver dollars.
single appropriation extending over a longer period must always presuppose the tacit sanction of the new congress. It is not likely that these questions will ever become practical. The United States is in too eminent a degree a popular state to let it seem possible that one congress would ever show a desire to usurp the prerogatives of future congresses in this respect. In fact the annual framing of the budget was probably not required by the constitution, only because it was regarded as a matter of
As the budget is fixed annually, the statement of the public revenue and expenditure, which must be published “from time to time" (art. I., sec. 9, $ 6), is issued every year. The total revenue for the fiscal year 1883–84 was $348,519,869 (against $398,287,581 in the preceding year). The chief individual sources of revenue have already been mentioned. Here we may add that the sale of public lands yielded $9,810,705. The income from land sales exceeded these figures only in the three years 1835, 1836 and 1855, in the two former very considerably. But in the other years as a rule the receipts were much smaller. Congress appropriated for the fiscal year 1884–85 $137,451,398, distributed as follows: deficiencies, $4,385,836; legislative, executive and judicial expenses, $21,556,902; sundry civil expenses, $22,346,750; support of the army, $24,454,450; naval service (for only the first half of the year), $8,931,856; Indian service, $5,903,151; rivers and harbors, $14,948,300; military academy, $314,563; forts and fortifications, $700,000; pensions, $20,810,000; consular and diplomatic service, $1,225,140; agricultural department, $480,190; District of Columbia, $3,594,256; miscellaneous, $7,800,004.