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CRS Annotated Constitution

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Section 7. Clause 1. 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.

Clause 2. Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law,[p.136]be presented to the President of the United States; If he approves 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.

Legislative Process

Clause 3. 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 Limitation prescribed in the Case of a Bill.


Revenue Bills

Insertion of this clause was another of the devices sanctioned by the Framers to preserve and enforce the separation of pow[p.137]ers.426 It applies, in the context of the permissibility of Senate amendments to a House–passed bill, to all bills for collecting revenue— revenue decreasing as well as revenue increasing—rather than simply to just those bills that increase revenue.427

Only bills to levy taxes in the strict sense of the word are comprehended by the phrase “all bills for raising revenue;” bills for other purposes, which incidentally create revenue, are not included.428 Thus, a Senate–initiated bill that provided for a monetary “special assessment” to pay into a crime victims fund did not violate the clause, because it was a statute that created and raised revenue to support a particular governmental program and was not a law raising revenue to support Government generally.429An act providing a national currency secured by a pledge of bonds of the United States, which, “in the furtherance of that object, and also to meet the expenses attending the execution of the act,” imposed a tax on the circulating notes of national banks was held not to be a revenue measure which must originate in the House of Representatives.430Neither was a bill that provided that the District of Columbia should raise by taxation and pay to designated railroad companies a specified sum for the elimination of grade crossings and the construction of a railway station.431The substitution of a corporation tax for an inheritance tax,432 and the addition of a section imposing an excise tax upon the use of foreign–built pleasure yachts,433 have been held to be within the Senate’s constitutional power to propose amendments.

Approval by the President

The President is not restricted to signing a bill on a day when Congress is in session.434He may sign within ten days (Sundays excepted) after the bill is presented to him, even if that period ex[p.138]tends beyond the date of the final adjournment of Congress.435 His duty in case of approval of a measure is merely to sign it. He need not write on the bill the word “approved” nor the date. If no date appears on the face of the roll, the Court may ascertain the fact by resort to any source of information capable of furnishing a satisfactory answer.436A bill becomes a law on the date of its approval by the President.437When no time is fixed by the act it is effective from the date of its approval,438 which usually is taken to be the first moment of the day, fractions of a day being disregarded.439


426 The Federalist, No. 58 (J. Cooke ed. 1961), 392–395 (Madison). See United States v. Munoz–Flores, 495 U.S. 385, 393–395 (1990).
427 The issue of coverage is sometimes important, as in the case of the TaxEquity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982, 96 Stat. 324 , in which the House passed a bill that provided for a net loss in revenue and the Senate amended the bill to provide a revenue increase of more than $98 billion over three years. Attacks on the law as a violation of the origination clause failed before assertions of political question, standing, and other doctrines. E.g., Texas Assn. of Concerned Taxpayers v. United States, 772 F.2d 163 (5th Cir. 1985); Moore v. U.S. House of Representatives, 733 F.2d 946 (D.C.Cir. 1984), cert.den., 469 U.S. 1106 (1985).
428 2 J. Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States(Boston: 1833), Sec. 880.
429 United States v. Munoz–Flores, 495 U.S. 385 (1990).
430 Twin City National Bank v. Nebeker, 167 U.S. 196 (1897).
431 Millard v. Roberts, 202 U.S. 429 (1906).
432 Flint v. Stone Tracy Co., 220 U.S. 107, 143 (1911).
433 Rainey v. United States, 232 U.S. 310 (1914).
434 La Abra Silver Mining Co. v. United States, 175 U.S. 423, 453 (1899).
435 Edwards v. United States, 286 U.S. 482 (1932). On one occasion in 1936, delay in presentation of a bill enabled the President to sign it 23 days after the adjournment of Congress. Schmeckebier, Approval of Bills After Adjournment of Congress, 33 Am. Pol. Sci. Rev. 52–53 (1939).
436 Gardner v. Collector, 6 Wall. (73 U.S.) 499 (1868).
437 Id., 504.See also Burgess v. Salmon, 97 U.S. 381, 383 (1878).
438 Matthews v. Zane, 7 Wheat. (20 U.S.) 164, 211 (1822).
439 Lapeyre v. United States, 17 Wall. (84 U.S.) 191, 198 (1873).
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