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Constitution Monday: House Tax and Vetoes

Note: Throughout this series, items that are hyperlinked were in the Constitution as written in 1787 but have since been amended or superseded.

Article I of the Constitution of the United States established the Legislative Branch, known as Congress. Here is Article I, Section VII:

Section. 7.

All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States: If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.

Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.

Here in Article I, Section 7, we have the first appearance of the President of the United States. We will learn much more about the President in Article II of the Constitution. In this article his power to veto legislation is mentioned, along with a procedure that Congress can use to override/overturn his veto. It is one of many checks and balances that our Constitution has, at least on paper.

Section 7 starts with a statement that revenue (tax) bills can only be originated in the House of Representatives. If you remember our discussion about the Senate a few weeks ago, you’ll remember that at the time of the Constitution, the House was directly elected and the Senate had members appointed by State legislatures. This provision ensured that only “the people’s House” could initiate tax legislation and be held directly accountable by voters. Now the Senate is also directly elected, this provision almost seems quaint. But it is still the law of the land.

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2 Responses

  1. I am enjoying these! It is so cool you are doing this, AK Lib!

  2. Thanks! I really hope more people will start doing something like this. We so desperately need to better understand our founding documents and our history.

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