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Encyclopedia: Payne-Aldrich Tariff Act

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Payne-Aldrich Tariff Act
1909, passed by the U.S. Congress. It was the first change in tariff laws since the Dingley Act of 1897; the issue had been ignored by President Theodore Roosevelt. The Republican platform of 1908 pledged revision of the tariff downward, and to this end President Taft called (1909) Congress into special session. The House promptly passed a tariff bill, sponsored by Sereno E. Payne, which called for some reduced rates. The Senate substituted a bill, fathered by Nelson W. Aldrich, which made fewer downward revisions and increased numerous rates. After a sustained attack on the Aldrich Bill by a group of insurgent Republicans in the Senate, a compromise bill was adopted, which somewhat moderated the high rates of the Aldrich bill; the measure was immediately signed by Taft. It lowered 650 tariff schedules, raised 220, and left 1,150 unchanged. Although the Payne-Aldrich Tariff Act was less aggressively protectionist than the McKinley Tariff Act (1890) and the later Dingley Act, it was, nevertheless, protectionist.