One highly favored means of dealing with the growing federal surplus in the early 1880s was to spend large amounts on pork barrel projects within the congressional districts of leading legislators. A measure was passed by both houses in 1882 that provided for $19 million to be expended on improvements on various river and harbor facilities.
President Arthur, unlike his predecessors, had the measure closely studied; the bogus nature of many of the projects was unmasked and the president vetoed the bill.
Congress managed to generate the necessary two-thirds vote to override Arthur's veto. Nevertheless, the president gained a measure of public good will for trying to halt wasteful spending.