The Senate and the Tariff

March 24, 1930

Report Outline
Early History of the Hawley-Smooth Bill
Agricultural Schedules of the Tariff Bill
Division of the Senate on Industrial Rates
Contests Over Lumber, Oil, and Hides
Special Focus

Early History of the Hawley-Smooth Bill

Political Importance of the Tariff Issue

Senate consideration of the tariff, which came to a close March 24, 1930, with passage of the Hawley-Smoot bill by a vote of 53 to 31, involved more than 230 yea-and-nay votes on administrative and rate provisions and questions of procedure during the six and a half months of intermittent debate. The purpose of this report is to provide a convenient record of the most significant of these roll calls, and to give a brief summary of the bill's provisions and its history.

Thirty-five of the ninety-six Senate scats are to be filled at the general election of November 4, 1930. General revisions of the tariff in the past—notably after the Payne-Aldrich Act of 1909—have often been followed by a substantial diminution of the number of seats retained in one or both houses of Congress by the party responsible for tariff legislation. The influence of the tariff enactments in bringing about this result can not, however, in any one of these cases, be segregated satisfactorily from that of other major issues. It may be significant that—as in this year—the election immediately subsequent to each of the general tariff revisions of the last three decades has taken place in an “off-year”—midway between presidential elections.

The Tariff Bill in the House of Representatives

Hearings looking toward tariff revision were begun before the Ways and Means Committee of the House on January 7, 1929, during the Seventieth Congress, and were concluded on February 27, 1929. The special session of the Seventy-first Congress met on April 15, 1929, and the Hawley bill was reported to the House on May 9. On May 24, the House, by a vote of 234 to 138, adopted a rule of procedure, presented by Rep. Snell, R., N. Y., and previously approved 206 to 24 by the House Republican caucus, sharply limiting debate and amendments from the floor. Four days later, on May 28, 1929, the bill was passed by a vote of 264 to 147, after the House had voted, 254 to 157, to reject the motion of Rep. Garner, D., Tex., to send the bill back to committee with instructions to restore the flexible and valuation provisions of the 1922 act, and to modify the rate schedules. The bill was supported on final passage by 244 Republicans and 20 Democrats. It was opposed by 12 Republicans, 134 Democrats, and 1 Farmer-Laborite.

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