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Billion Dollar Congress

Benjamin Harrison

Billion Dollar Congress: Benjamin Harrison was the 23rd American President who served in office from March 4, 1889 to March 4, 1893. One of the important events during his presidency was the Billion Dollar Congress.

Definition and Summary of the Billion Dollar Congress
Summary and definition:
The 51st Congress, was given the derisive name 'Billion Dollar Congress' because it was the first to pass a billion dollar budget. The Dependent Pension Bill was passed on December 3, 1889 providing benefits to Union veterans and their families.

The 51st Congress also approved naval expansion These costly actions earned the fifty-first presidential administration the name of the "Billion Dollar Congress". The laws passed during Benjamin Harrison's term in office cost the United States government over a billion dollars.

Billion Dollar Congress Facts for kids
Interesting facts about the Billion Dollar Congress for kids are detailed below.

The 51st legislature was effective from March 4, 1889, to March 4, 1891, during the first 2 years of the administration of President Benjamin Harrison

Republicans won control of both of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives after the 1888 presidential election

A Congress lasts for two years, with each year constituting a separate session.

The Republican victory broke the period of divided party government

The Senate President was Levi P. Morton and the House Speaker was Thomas B. Reed. Congressional action is planned and coordinated by party leaders

The Republican majority government were able to streamline House rules and prevented the minority party from obstructing the legislative process. Legislative powers are granted by Article I of the U.S. Constitution

Only the House is able to originate revenue legislation,  but the enactment of law always requires both chambers to separately agree to the same bill before presenting it to the President.

The President has influence on the legislative process, recommends an annual budget and has the power to veto legislation of bills passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Thomas B. Reed, Republican Party leader and speaker, became known as a “czar” for his use of the House rules (the Reed Rules) that helped achieve the goals of his Republican majority.

The changes and streamlining of the House rules led by together with the majority, unified government and Republican president led to the laws that were passed by the "Billion Dollar Congress"

The laws passed were:

  • The Dependent and Disability Pensions Act that granted cash income for life to any disabled Civil War veteran and also granted pensions to orphans or widows of veterans

  • Naval expansion was approved to build a modern fleet

  • Other important laws were passed due to economic pressures that included the McKinley tariff, the Sherman Antitrust Act and the Sherman Silver Purchase Act

Significance: The extravagant and lavish spending by the Republicans was highly criticized by

US American History
1881-1913: Maturation Era

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