ArtI.S9.C7.2 Payment of Claims

Article I, Section 9, Clause 7:

No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.

No officer of the Federal Government is authorized to pay a debt due from the United States, whether reduced to judgment or not, without an appropriation for that purpose. 1 Nor may a government employee, by erroneous advice to a claimant, bind the United States through equitable estoppel principles to pay a claim for which an appropriation has not been made. 2

After the Civil War, a number of controversies arose out of attempts by Congress to restrict the payment of the claims of persons who had aided the Rebellion but had thereafter received a pardon from the President. The Supreme Court held that Congress could not prescribe the evidentiary effect of a pardon in a proceeding in the Court of Claims for property confiscated during the Civil War, 3 but that where the confiscated property had been sold and the proceeds paid into the Treasury, a pardon did not of its own force authorize the restoration of such proceeds. 4 It was within the competence of Congress to declare that the amount due to persons thus pardoned should not be paid out of the Treasury and that no general appropriation should extend to their claims. 5

Footnotes

  1.  Jump to essay-1Reeside v. Walker, 52 U.S. (11 How.) 272 (1851).
  2.  Jump to essay-2OPM v. Richmond, 496 U.S. 414 (1990).
  3.  Jump to essay-3United States v. Klein, 80 U.S. (13 Wall.) 128 (1872).
  4.  Jump to essay-4Knote v. United States, 95 U.S. 149, 154 (1877); Austin v. United States, 155 U.S. 417, 427 (1894).
  5.  Jump to essay-5Hart v. United States, 118 U.S. 62, 67 (1886).