“The battery is failing!” exclaimed Mr. Henderson.
The bill passed as reported and went to the House. That body amended it by making Cabinet officers non-removable by the President without the consent of the Senate, and sent the bill back to the Senate, when Mr. Sherman said:
It (the Tenure-of-Office bill) ought to have been passed, and probably would have been passed, long ago, if a different condition of affairs had existed before. But when you propose to extend that principle to Cabinet officers, a very different state of affairs arises, and different circumstances apply to this subject. Now I say, that if a Cabinet officer should attempt to hold his office for a moment beyond the time when he retained the entire confidence of the President, I would not vote to retain him, NOR WOULD I COMPEL THE PRESIDENT TO LEAVE ABOUT HIM IN THESE HIGH POSITIONS A MAN IN WHOM HE DID NOT ENTIRELY TRUST, both personally and politically. It would be unwise to require him to administer the Government without agents of his own choosing. It seems to me, therefore, that it would be unwise for the Senate to engraft in this bill a provision that would enable a Cabinet officer to hold on to his office in violation of the will of his Chief. * * * Suppose the personal relations between a Cabinet officer and the President became so unpleasant that they could have no personal intercourse. The Senator from Wisconsin (Mr. Howe), says in such a case the Cabinet officer would resign. Suppose he should hold on to his power and position--what then? There is no power to remove him, and the President can have no intercourse with him. Would you compel such a state of affairs? It seems to me that it would be unwise to do so. That the Senate had no such purpose is shown by its vote twice to make this exception. That this provision does not apply to the present case, is shown by the fact that its language is so framed as NOT TO APPLY TO THE PRESENT PRESIDENT. * * * It would not prevent the present President from removing the present Secretary of War, the Secretary of the Navy, or the Secretary of State.
A considerable number of Senators participated in the debate, which was able and exhaustive to an exceptional degree, on both sides, and occupied several days in the various stages of the proceeding.
Mr. Edmunds closed the debate in the Senate with the following remarks:
I do not rise to prolong the debate, but only to express the hope that the debate on this question may terminate--that we may come to a vote. * * * While I should be glad to occupy some time in reply to some things that have fallen in the course of this debate, I feel it to be due to the business of the Senate to abstain. I hope the Senate will disagree to this amendment, (made by the House) and adhere to the bill as it stands.
The vote was then taken, and resulted in 17 for agreeing to the House amendment, and 28 against it.
The action of the Senate was reported to the House and Conference Committees were appointed by the two houses.
On the 18th of February, the following substitute for the first section of the bill was reported by the Committee of Conference and adopted by both Houses, and the bill went to the President: