If they're right that it is more blessed to give than receive, then the Senate had a halo on yesterday.
It began promptly at 9:30 a.m., with Sen. Henry Jackson (D-Wash.) winning approval of an amendment to the year's last big appropriations bill providing an extra $2.5 million to build an access road to a Trident submarine base in his state.
Next up was Paul Sarbanes (D-Md.). He got $2 million added so the Department of Agriculture can blitz the Khapra beetle, an intruder from India that has infiltrated two spice plants and a bag company in Baltimore. The plants are under quarantine until fumigation is carried out by USDA.
And so on it went, through the day. Some of the other examples of the Senate's preadjournment generosity included these:
James Sasser (D-Tenn.) got $750,000 to fund a public-affairs teaching chair at Fisk University in Nashville. It will be named for William Levi Dawson, a Fisk graduate who was the second black elected to Congress after Reconstruction.
Harrison Schmitt (R-N.M.) got California's big Kings River and Kern River irrigation projects, plus others set up by the Army Corps of Engineers, exempted from the 1902 reclamation law, meaning their federal water subsidies will not be threatened. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) got a similar exemption for part of his Imperial Valley irrigation district.
Harry F. Byrd Jr. (Ind-Va.), working with Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.), won approval of language banning the use of any federal funds to assist anyone who advocates violent overthrow of the government.
Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) got approval of about $200 million for 36 federal building construction and repair projects. The projects had been authorized previously.
George McGovern (D-S.D.) lost when he tried to kill a provision sponsored by Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.) to delay delivery of Central Arizona Project water to 12 Indian tribes. A McGovern point of order against DeConcini's language was upheld by the chair but then overruled by a roll call vote.
By late afternoon, despite the holiday atmosphere, tempers were fraying, in part because Howard M. Metzenbaum (D-Ohio) played party-pooper, objecting or threatening to object to unexplained and expensive amendments.
At one point, when Metzenbaum demanded to know the contents of a mysterious amendment, Majority Leader Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.) told him testily that it "cedes three-fourths of Ohio back to the Indians."
Just before, final passage last night, with exasperation setting in, the Senate adopted a Moynihan amendment providing tax relief on unsold inventories for publishers and small businesses. Moynihan pleaded passionately, warning that "barbarous" book-burnings would result if his amendment lost.