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National Expenditure for Legislation


L Legislation is a needful expenditure.

2. Salaries and mileage of Senators and Representatives.

3. Clerk hire, stationery and incidentals.

4. Special investigations.

5. Other expenditures.

1. Legislation is a needful expenditure. Expense has been lessened in some of the States by holding biennial sessions, and many other benefits besides this would fol low were the National Government to imitate their ex ample. Especially the business interests of the country would welcome the change.

2. The chief expense is for the payment of salaries and mileage to Senators and Representatives. Each member is paid $5,000 a year, and twenty cents per mile for travel from his residence to Washington.

3. Besides this expenditure, a large sum is expended for clerks and other employees of the two Houses, for stationery and incidental expenses.' Of late years ex penditure has been increasing for clerks and committees. Some members contend that each member ought to be lIn the way of illustration, at the 1 Sess. of the 64 Cong. Senator Peffer delivered a very instructive speech on the rapidly increasing expense of congressional funerals. Senator Hearst's funeral thus far leads the list, costing $21,322. The contrast between its cost and that for the funeral of Senator Malbone, of Rhode Island, in 1809, is noteworthy. He was buried in the Congressional Cemetery and most of the Senators attended. Two of the items charged by the committee having direction of the funeral were for 16 pounds of crackers, $3.00, and pounds of cheese, $2.81. The committee to audit the contingent expenses of the Senate allowed the cracker item, but rejected the other as excessive. 28 Cong. Rec. pp. 145, 146.

provided with a clerk, as his correspondence is largely of a public character, which cannot be answered without such assistance. Without it, doubtless many an inquiry would go unanswered, either from lack of time or incli nation. Again, even though many inquiries are useless, proper courtesy and respect for the writers perhaps re quire that their inquiries should be answered. But in stead of providing clerks at a specific public expense, would not the plan be better to add to the pay of members for clerk hire, stationery, postage and all other incident als ? A contingent expense ought to be lopped off when ever this is practicable.

4. Another item of expense, which has been constantly increasing, is for special investigation by one branch or the other, or both branches of Congress. Some of these are somewhat technical, and could be more ef ficiently made by a commission composed of men skilled in the subject. A good illustration is the inves tigation made by a joint committee of the Senate and House to investigate into the effect of repealing the duty on grain alcohol used in the arts.' Other investiga tions are known as junketing expeditions, disguised methods of enabling the members to indulge in a pleas ure trip at the public expense. Other investigations have a darker and even more questionable origin; and one of these is now in progress and known as the In dustrial Commission.' Its questionable purpose was clearly exposed during the debate on its creation; its meagre and unsatisfactory work was afterward con demned when the commission asked for another appro priation; and it is exceedingly difficult to show who have been benefited by it except the members and a few others who were behind, urging the appointment of the commission. The work of many commissions has proved so nearly worthless, whether poorly or well done, in improving legislation that there is a growing senti ment against making expenditures for this purpose.

5. The legislative expenditures for 1899 may be thus summarized: $1,286,662 Salaries and mileage of members and delegates of the 'See the elaborate and exceedingly interesting report made by this committee in which was shown among other things and with great clearness, the far reaching and contradictory effects of the tariff on alcohol. Senate Report, No. 411, 56 Cong. 2 Sess.

'For criticism of its work see Senate debate, 33 Cong. Record, 5237, 6635. Great doubt concerning the usefulness of the commission was expressed at the time of its creation. The true reasons for creating the commission were largely of a per sonal and political character.

expense, commission, cong, senate and committee