Wednesday, January 19, 2005
The Tax History Project, a public service initiative of Tax Analysts, has posted "A Source of Frequent and Obstinate Altercations": The History and Application of the Origination Clause (by Michael W. Evans). Here is the Introduction:
Congress, in considering revenue legislation, occasionally faces a "blue slip problem." A question arises concerning whether a Senate bill or amendment offends the Constitution's Origination Clause, with the result that, if the provision passes the Senate, the House will respond with a blue slip -- a resolution, printed on blue paper, that informs the Senate that it is the opinion of the House that the bill infringes on the House's constitutional prerogative to originate revenue legislation and that, accordingly, the House refuses to consider it. That slip of blue paper signals a problem faced since colonial times: how to distribute the power to raise revenue in a bicameral legislature. It is a problem with not only deep historical roots, reaching back before the Constitution, but also important practical applications. For example, over the past few years, Congress has faced Origination Clause questions for legislation increasing the federal debt limit and establishing new user fees.