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Treasury Report for 1829. Appropriations for 1830. —
port of Government.
Discussion on Bill. Naval Service. Marine Corps.- Fortifications. Engineer Department. Military Service. - Indian Department. - Massachusetts Claim.
The Secretary, besides furnishing the above statements concerning the public finances, went into an examination of the anticipated demands upon the Treasury, and came to the conclusion, that the duties on various articles might be reduced without any detriment to the public service. Certain regulations were also recommended to prevent frauds on the revenue, and the erection of public warehouses for the purpose of storing goods entered for drawback or on which the duties should not be paid. A change, too, in the credit on bonds for duties was proposed, so as to permit the purchasers to bond the goods instead of the importer, and to make the term of six, nine and
twelve months the average terms of the credits on all importations. Nothing was definitely said as to the propriety of the tariff policy, from which the sentiments of the administration could be gathered. The Secretary's report and the necessary estimates having been' furnished to the House, it devolved upon Congress to make the necessary appropriations for the public service.
As the party which had been so clamorous for economy and retrenchment was now in power, but little opposition was to be expected to those appropriations, which were deemed necessary for the ordinary service of the Government; although those items during several years past had furnished the most fruitful topics of debate. It was to be presumed that a reforming party would confine the public expenditure within the proper limits; and so long as no extraordinary drafts were made on the treasury, there was no necessity for the interference of those who were not ranked among the supporters of the administration.
The bills providing for the respective branches of the public service having been reported, on the 17th of January, 1830, that making provision for the revolutionary and other pensioners was taken up, and having passed both Houses without opposition, be came a law. By this act $1,157,961 were appropriated for pensions for 1830, and $101,700 for the arrearages of 1829.
The bill making appropriations for the support of the Government for 1830 was taken up in the
House on the 9th of February. ment. He said it would be inefWhen the bill was before the Committee of the Whole, Mr McDuffie moved to fill up the blank of the section of the bill containing the appropriation for the contingent expenses of both Houses of Congress with the sum of 135,000 dollars.
Mr Wickliffe moved to amend the bill by adding thereto the following paragraphs:
To defray the expenses of printing for the two Houses of Congress, performed by the public Printer of each House, agreeably to his contracts.
Stationary, book binding, fuel, newspapers, post office, carpenters' work, furniture, repairs to the Senate Chamber and Hall of Congress and Rooms.
Messengers and horses, blank books and ruling paper and books. Expenses of the Police of the Capitol.
Expenses of witnesses, including officers' fees, for summoning, &c.
Expenses of engraving maps and surveys, ordered by either House.
Mourning and funeral expenses. Hack hire, when employed in the public service.
Extra clerk hire.
Mr Wickliffe said his object in proposing this amendment was, to confine the contingent fund to the legitimate expenses of both Houses of Congress, and for that purpose he procured from the Clerk of the House an enumeration of the different items of expenditure for the last session of Congress, which are all embraced in the amendment.
Mr Coulter opposed the amend
fectual to accomplish the object it professed to have in view, inasmuch as from the very nature of contingent expenses, it would be impossible to enumerate all the articles which the circumstances of Congress may render necessary hereafter. He also said, that it implied a reproach on the character and integrity of the two Houses of Congress, since it deprived them of the discretionary power vested in the other departments of the Government to manage their own funds as their exigencies may require.
Mr Polk supported the amendment.
Mr McDuffie said he would have no objection to the amendment of Mr Wickliffe if he was certain it embraced all the articles of the contingent expenses of both Houses of Congress. He suggested to Mr Wickliffe to amend his proposition by reserving the sum of five thousand dollars to meet expenses which may possibly be omitted in the enumeration he has made. He inquired from what source the specifications in his amendment were procured.
Mr Everett and Mr Ingersoll severally opposed the amendment and expressed their regret that the appropriation bills should be thus encumbered. Mr Ingersoll said that it would be a better mode to introduce a specific bill embracing the objects of Mr Wickliffe's amendment, especially as it would be impossible to anticipate the contingent expenditures of both Houses of Congress. He asked in what department of Government this discretionary
power which the amendment proposed to take away, could be deposited, if not with the representatives of the people?
Mr Barringer opposed the amendment, and condemned the practice of thus attempting to remedy special evils by general legislation.
Mr Ellsworth and Mr Huntington were also opposed to the amendment.
Mr Daniel supported it at considerable length.
Mr Wilde opposed the amendment, and said that the object of it would be much better accomplished by the introduction of a distinct bill to limit the expenditures as proposed.
Mr Polk suggested to Mr Wickliffe a modification of his amendment so as to meet the views of Mr Barringer who expressed his disapprobation of general acts of legislation for particular cases. He said he would make such a motion if Mr Wickliffe would not accept it as a modification of his amendment.
Mr Wickliffe replied that it was not in his power to comply with the request of Mr Polk, as the amendment he offered was not at his own instance, but proceeded from the Committee on Retrenchment.
Mr Polk then moved to amend the amendment by adding to it the following words :
To the payment of the ordinary expenses of the contingent fund of the Senate and House of Representatives: Provided, That no part of this appropriation shall be applied to pay for any printing not connected with the proceed
ings of either House of Congress, and executed by the public printer, unless the same be authorized by a joint resolution, or a law providing for the same.'
The amendment was agreed to yeas 55.
After a few observations] from Mr Taylor the amendment as amended, was also agreed to yeas 65, nays 61.
Mr Semmes moved to amend the bill by adding the following proviso:
'Provided, That nothing herein contained shall be construed to prevent any expenditure already authorized by either House of Congress.'
The question on this amendment was negatived nays 53.
Mr Everett proposed to amend that part of the bill relative to the library, by adding to it the following words:
For the library of Congress, 5,000 dollars.'
This amendment was agreed to yeas 56, nays 49.
After some further amendments in Committee on the 10th of February, the bill was reported to the House on the 11th, when the question being on agreeing to the amendments of Messrs Wickliffe and Polk, in relation to the printing, a division was demanded and the vote was 91 yeas, 68
The question recurring on the bill, Mr Wickliffe asked why th appropriation for the diplomatic service was greater than that for the last year?
Mr McDuffie replied that, until the last year there had been
an accumulation of unexpended balances, which being expended, a larger sum was required for this year.
Some further conversation occurred, in which Mr Ingersoll took a part, when Mr Verplanck rose and disclaiming any intention to nake party allusions, stated that Mr Adams provided liberally for the foreign intercourse during the first year of his own term, haying when Secretary of State, drawn the bills, or suggested the appropriations; there being, when he came in, a large unappropriated balance. Notwithstanding this, and the fact that his own political friends filled the diplomatic department, he asked for two hundred and thirteen thousand dollars for this fund during his first year. The year after, corresponding to the present year of the present administration, he asked for one hundred and eightynine thousand five hundred dollars; then came a call for forty thousand dollars for the Panama Mission. Making a total of four hundred and fortytwo thousand five hundred dollars, deemed proper and convenient to be used, and passed by the House, during the two first years of that administration. At the close of that administration there was on hand a surplus fund to a considerable amount. The Secretary of State, with a laudable desire to do up his business, asked for no addition to the surplus fund. Under these circumstances only one hundred and thirtyseven thousand dollars was given for contingencies.
Certain reasons induced the present Executive to make some
recalls; and under these circumstances it was hardly wonderful that some additional appropriation was necessary. The administration now asked two hundred and ten thousand dollars. The amount (he presumed) which would be called for during the two first years of this administration for foreign intercourse would be three hundred and fortyseven thousand dollars. Making a difference of nearly one hundred thousand dollars in favor of the present administration. The administration meant to go back to the good old act of 1810- an act drawn with more than usual precisionwhich left nothing to come from the contingent fund. There would be no more constructive embassies no more forty thousand dollars appropriated for hunting up Congresses which were not to be found; unless, indeed, they were in the moon, or in that other place described by the poet as the 'receptacle of things lost upon earth.'
Under these circumstances, he presumed the Government would get along the two years for one hundred thousand dollars less than the last administration.
Mr Ingersoll replied that, since Mr Verplanck got up to put me right, he has put himself doubly wrong. I understood him to say that, during the two first years of Mr Adams' term two hundred and thirteen thousand dollars were appropriated for the foreign intercourse. If he will take the trouble to look into the statute books he will see that the sum was but one hundred and fortyseven thousand five hundred dol