ArtI.S7.C1.1.1 Origination Clause

Article I, 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.

Insertion of this clause was another of the devices sanctioned by the Framers to preserve and enforce the separation of powers.1 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.2

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.3 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.4 An 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.5 Neither 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.6 The substitution of a corporation tax for an inheritance tax,7 and the addition of a section imposing an excise tax upon the use of foreign-built pleasure yachts,8 have been held to be within the Senate's constitutional power to propose amendments.

Footnotes

  1.  Jump to essay-1The FederalistNo. 58, at 392–95 (James Madison) (Jacob E. Cooke ed., 1961). See United States v. Munoz-Flores, 495 U.S. 385, 393–95 (1990).
  2.  Jump to essay-2The issue of coverage is sometimes important, as in the case of the Tax Equity 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 Ass'n 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. denied, 469 U.S. 1106 (1985).
  3.  Jump to essay-32 J. Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States § 880 (1833).
  4.  Jump to essay-4United States v. Munoz-Flores, 495 U.S. 385 (1990).
  5.  Jump to essay-5Twin City Bank v. Nebeker, 167 U.S. 196 (1897).
  6.  Jump to essay-6Millard v. Roberts, 202 U.S. 429 (1906).
  7.  Jump to essay-7Flint v. Stone Tracy Co., 220 U.S. 107, 143 (1911).
  8.  Jump to essay-8Rainey v. United States, 232 U.S. 310 (1914).