Legislative Branch

Guide to Senate Records: Chapter 9

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Chapter 9. Records of the Committee on Finance and Related Records, 1816-1988

Records of the Committee on Finance and Related Records, 1816-1988 from Guide to Federal Records in the National Archives of the United States

Committee records discussed in this chapter:
Records of the Committee on Finance and Related Records, 1816-1968 (928 ft.)
Motion for the appointment of standing committees, 12/05/1816
Motion for the appointment of standing committees, December 5, 1816 (SEN14A-B6) from NARA's National Archives Catalog.  

9.1 The Committee on Finance was among the original standing committees established on December 10, 1816, by the Senate under the authority of a Senate resolution introduced by James Barbour of Virginia.

9.2 The Finance Committee was preceded by the Select Committee on Finance and an Uniform National Currency, which was established to consider the parts of President James Madison's message of December 5, 1815, concerning finance and currency matters. This was a customary practice of the early Senate. What was unusual was that this select committee, chaired by Senator George Campbell of Tennessee, did not cease after its responsibility was met, but rather continued throughout the 1st session of the 14th Congress. The select committee handled two very important measures, the Tariff of 1816 and creation of the Second Bank of the United States. At the beginning of the 2d session of the 14th Congress, approval of Barbour's resolution created the standing Committee on Finance, which has met during each Congress since then. Senator Campbell was its first chairman.

9.3 Originally, the Finance Committee handled legislative matters relating to the collection of revenue through collection of customs duties and taxes; regulation of customs collection and ports of entry; banking, currency, and the national debt; and appropriation bills. In 1869, appropriations matters were delegated to a separate standing Committee on Appropriations, and in 1913 jurisdiction over banking and currency matters was shifted to the new Committee on Banking and Currency. The Finance Committee also has jurisdiction over income and excise taxes, Social Security and related programs, funding aspects of welfare and related social services, unemployment compensation, and reciprocal trade and tariff legislation. During World War I, legislation relating to the war risk insurance program was referred to the Finance Committee, thus beginning a new direction for consideration of veterans benefits in the Senate. Within a few years, measures related to vocational rehabilitation and medical treatment for veterans with service-connected disabilities were also referred to the committee; after World War II, the committee handled the Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, the so-called GI Bill of Rights, which provided a wide range of education benefits, unemployment assistance, vocational training, housing and business loan guarantees, and other benefits. Because the Finance Committee was responsible for veterans programs from 1917 to 1946, another long-standing committee of the Senate, the Committee on Pensions gradually became unnecessary. The Legislative Reorganization Act of 1946 (Public Law 79-601) abolished the Committee on Pensions, and from 1947 to 1970, matters relating to veterans compensation and veterans measures generally were referred to the Committee on Finance, while matters relating to the vocational rehabilitation, education, medical care, civil relief, and civilian readjustment of veterans were referred to the Committee on Labor and Public Welfare. The Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 (Public Law 91-510) transferred jurisdiction over all veterans matters to the standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, effective with the 92d Congress (1971-72).

9.4 The committee has published a History of the Committee on Finance as S. Doc. 5, 97th Cong., 1st sess., Serial 13389, which is an excellent summary of the activities of the committee.

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Bibliographic note: Web version based on Guide to the Records of the United States Senate at the National Archives, 1789-1989: Bicentennial Edition (Doct. No. 100-42). By Robert W. Coren, Mary Rephlo, David Kepley, and Charles South. Washington, DC: National Archives and Records Administration, 1989.