A statute which fixes the annual salary of a public officer at a
designated sum without limitation as to time is not abrogated or
suspended by subsequent enactments which merely appropriate a less
amount for that officer for particular years and which contain no
words expressly, or by clear implication, modifying or repealing
the previous law. United States v. Langston, 118 U.
A provision making a special and temporary appropriation will
not be construed as expressing the intent of Congress to have a
general and permanent application to all future appropriations.
Minis v. United
15 Pet. 423.
The provision in the Appropriation Acts of 1906 and 1907
excepting Hawaii and Porto Rico from the operation of the provision
for additional pay for officers in foreign service is not to be
construed as prevailing over the explicit provisions of the Act of
June 30, 1902, providing for such additional pay including those
places, and the salary provided by law of officers on foreign
service referred to in the Act of May 11, 1908, is that fixed by
the Act of June 30, 1902.
47 Ct.Cl. 324 affirmed.
The facts, which involve statutes regulating the amount of
additional pay of officers of the United States Navy for service
beyond the seas, are stated in the opinion.
Page 233 U. S. 511
MR. JUSTICE McKENNA delivered the opinion of the Court.
The appellee, Nelson P. Vulte, filed a petition in the Court of
Claims claiming to be entitled to $299.78, being ten percent of his
regular pay for service beyond the seas. Judgment was entered in
his favor for that amount, and the United States prosecuted this
The court found the following facts: Vulte was appointed second
lieutenant in the Marine Corps June 30, 1893, and was promoted to
first lieutenant March 3, 1904. Under orders assigning him for duty
in Porto Rico with station at San Juan, he sailed from New York for
Porto Rico June 27, 1908, and served there until November 3, 1909,
when he was detached and ordered back to the United States. He was
four days on the return voyage.
If it is held that he is entitled to ten percent for services in
Porto Rico from the date of sailing from New York until the date of
his detachment from duty at San Juan, there would accrue to him the
sum of $296.72, and
Page 233 U. S. 512
an additional sum of $3.06 if entitled to pay en route from
Porto Rico to New York.
Vulte's pay was originally fixed by § 1612 of the Revised
Statutes as follows:
"The officers of the Marine Corps shall be entitled to receive
the same pay and allowances, and the enlisted men shall be entitled
to receive the same pay and bounty for reenlisting, as are or may
be provided by or in pursuance of law for the officers and enlisted
men of like grades in the Infantry of the Army."
On June 30, 1902, as part of the appropriation act for the Army
(c. 1328, 32 Stat. 507. 512), Congress modified existing law
respecting the pay proper of officers of this grade by the
"For additional ten percentum increase on pay of commissioned
officers serving at foreign stations, four hundred and fifty-one
thousand, four hundred and fifty-six dollars: Provided,
That hereafter the pay proper of all commissioned officers and
enlisted men serving beyond the limits of the states comprising the
Union and the territories of the United States contiguous thereto
shall be increased ten percentum for officers and twenty percentum
for enlisted men over and above the rates of pay proper as fixed by
law for time of peace, and the time of such service shall be
counted from the date of departure from said states to the date of
As observed by Mr. Justice Booth, delivering the opinion of the
Court of Claims: "Thus far, the rights of plaintiff [Vulte]
respecting pay are obvious; the complications arise by subsequent
On June 12, 1906, Congress provided
"for additional ten percentum increase on pay of commissioned
officers serving beyond the limits of the states comprising the
Union and the territories of the United States contiguous thereto
(except Porto Rico and Hawaii), as provided by Act of June
thirtieth, nineteen hundred and two, the time of such service to be
counted from the date of departure
Page 233 U. S. 513
from said states to the date of return thereto. . . ."
34 Stat. 247, c. 3078.
This provision of the Act of June 12, 1906, was repeated in the
appropriation Act of 1907. 34 Stat. 1164, c. 2511.
The Act of May 11, 1908, provided as follows:
"That increase of pay for service beyond the limits of the
states comprising the Union and the territories of the United
States contiguous thereto shall be as now provided by law."
"* * * *"
"For additional ten percentum increase on pay of officers on
foreign service, two hundred and eighty-five thousand dollars."
"* * * *"
"That nothing herein contained shall be construed so as to
reduce the pay or allowances now authorized by law for any officer
or enlisted man of the Army, and all laws or parts of laws
inconsistent with the provisions of this act are hereby
35 Stat. 110, 114, c. 163.
The short point in the case is to what the words "shall be as
now provided by law" in the Act of May 11, 1908, refer, whether to
the Acts of 1906 and 1907, or more limitedly, we may say, to the
exceptions of Porto Rico and Hawaii in those acts, or to the
proviso in the Act of June 30, 1902, supra.
words, whether the exceptions of those years of those special
places shall prevail over the substantive provision of the Act of
June 30, 1902, supra,
which is explicit, of enduring
effect, and is besides comprehensive of all foreign stations, its
language being: "That hereafter the pay proper of all commissioned
officers . . . serving beyond the limits of the states . . . shall
be increased ten percentum. . . ."
The government contends for the exceptions as constituting new
law, not as a temporary condition under an
Page 233 U. S. 514
old one. The claimant contends for the proviso of the Act of
1902, and counsel, in quite elaborate arguments, have supported
their respective contentions. We shall not follow the details of
their arguments. The question presented, we think, is in brief
compass. Congress manifestly did not think that, by the first
instance of the exception, that in the Act of 1906, it had done
more than temporarily suspend as to Porto Rico and Hawaii the Act
of June 30, 1902. The exception was repeated in 1907. If the first
exception was not intended to affect permanently the Act of 1902,
why should such intention be ascribed to the second exception -- or
to both, neither having words of prospective extension, and,
without such words, naturally having only temporary operation? It
would be extreme to say that, by making them, Congress considered
that it had established a policy which could be confidently
referred to as having the status and effect of permanent law.
The exceptions, it is to be remembered, were in appropriation
acts, and no words were used to indicate any other purpose than the
disbursement of a sum of money for the particular fiscal years.
This Court has had occasion to deal with such instances of
legislation and their intended effect on existing law. In
United States v. Langston, 118 U.
, 118 U. S. 394
was decided that a statute which fixed the annual salary of a
public officer at a designated sum without limitation as to time is
not abrogated or suspended by subsequent enactments which merely
appropriate a less amount for that officer for particular years,
and which contained no words that expressly or by clear implication
modified or repealed the previous law. See also Minis v. United
15 Pet. 423, 40 U. S. 445
where it is said:
"It would be somewhat unusual to find engrafted upon an act
making special and temporary appropriation any provision which was
to have a general and permanent applications to all future
Page 233 U. S. 515
Nor ought such an intention on the part of the legislature to be
presumed unless it is expressed in the most clear and positive
terms and where the language admits of no other reasonable
This follows naturally from the nature of appropriation bills,
and the presumption hence arising is fortified by the rules of the
Senate and House of Representatives.
The ruling in the Langston
not opposed by the cases cited by the government. In all of them,
there was something more than the mere omission to appropriate a
sufficient sum. There were expressions indicating a broader
purpose. In two of them, United States v. Fisher,
109 U. S. 143
United States v. Mitchell, 109 U.
, it was intimated that the law was only suspended
for the particular years. In another, Wallace v. United
States, 133 U. S. 180
was held that the appropriation constituted the law which
prescribed the compensation of the office. And in all of them, the
case was referred to and not disturbed or