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IN the Appendix will be found the text of the bill now before Congress to authorize and provide for the construction of the Canal. It is not the measure referred to on pages 93 and 94. That was the bill of 1899. It was never allowed to see the light by the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, to which it was referred after passing the Senate. The committee's failure to report the bill was attributed by the advocates of the Canal to the opposition of Speaker Reed, but I am of the opinion that there was a more potent reason. The last House having been elected before the outbreak of the war with Spain was out of touch with the people, and, therefore, not aware of the earnest and widespread demand for the construction of the Canal by the Government. The House, however, did not entirely ignore the subject. A clause was inserted in the general appropriation bill providing $1,000,000 for the continuance of the Walker Commission, its examination of the Panama route, re-examination of the Nicaragua route, and report as to which is the more feasible. The Commission has visited Panama and is now in Nicaragua, its surveys being practically completed.
The pending bill differs from its predecessor mainly
in making a larger appropriation for the construction of the Canal, and providing for the fortification of the route by this Government. Mr. Hepburn, of Iowa, Chairman of the Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, presented to the House, February 17, a unanimous report in favor of the passage of the bill, and, according to the newspaper polls, it is sure of speedy passage by a large majority in both branches of Congress.
About a week before the bill was reported to the House, a draft of a new convention with Great Britain on the subject, termed the Hay-Pauncefote Treaty, was submitted to the Senate for ratification. This abrogates the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty, but provides for the neutrality of the Canal in war as well as peace. This last feature has evoked a somewhat noisy opposition to the treaty, but the spokesmen for the administration claim to be confident of a safe majority for it.
THE AUTHOR. February 21, 1900.