Article 1, Section 7, Clause 1

Document 9

Theophilus Parsons, Massachusetts Ratifying Convention

23 Jan. 1788Elliot 2:92--93

It is objected that it is dangerous to allow the Senate a right of proposing alterations or amendments in money bills; that the Senate may by this power increase the supplies, and establish profuse salaries; that for these reasons the lords in the British Parliament have not this power, which is a great security to the liberties of Englishmen. I was much surprised at hearing this objection, and the grounds upon which it was supported. The reason why the lords have not this power, is founded on a principle in the English constitution, that the commons alone represent the whole property of the nation; and as a money bill is a grant to the king, none can make the grant but those who represent the property of the nation; and the negative of the lords is introduced to check the profusion of the commons, and to guard their own property. The manner of passing a money bill is conclusive evidence of these principles; for, after the assent of the Lords, it does not remain with the clerk of the Parliament, but is returned to the commons, who, by their speaker, present it to the king as the gift of the commons. But every supposed control the Senate, by this power, may have over money bills, they can have without it; for, by private communications with the representatives, they may as well insist upon the increase of the supplies, or salaries, as by official communications. But had not the Senate this power, the representatives might take any foreign matter to a money bill, and compel the Senate to concur, or lose the supplies. This might be done in critical seasons, when the Senate might give way to the encroachments of the representatives, rather than sustain the odium of embarrassing the affairs of the nation; the balance between the two branches of the legislature would, in this way, be endangered, if not destroyed, and the Constitution materially injured. This subject was fully considered by the Convention for forming the constitution of Massachusetts, and the provision made by that body, after mature deliberation, is introduced into the federal Constitution.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 2, Article 1, Section 7, Clause 1, Document 9
The University of Chicago Press

Elliot, Jonathan, ed. The Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution as Recommended by the General Convention at Philadelphia in 1787. . . . 5 vols. 2d ed. 1888. Reprint. New York: Burt Franklin, n.d.

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