In a rare move of bipartisanship, the Senate passed two bills coin-related bills by Unanimous Consent on Tuesday that were previously passed by the House of Representatives. Bills passed by Unanimous Consent are agree upon by both party’s leaders and a voice vote is taken on the floor as a formality. No record of the vote is taken.

The first bill that passed is the Coin Modernization, Oversight, and Continuity Act of 2010 (H.R.6166). Introduced by Melvin Watt (D-NC), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology following the hearing of “The State of U.S. Coins and Currency” held on July 20, 2010. As passed, the law requires the U.S. Mint to research minting metals used for coining money and to report to congress what changes should be made to prevent coin production from costing more than its face value. One forward thinking aspect of the law is that it requires to U.S. Mint to tie the research to actual production numbers, as opposed to hypothetical figures. The U.S. Mint has two years to complete the research and report back to the subcommittee.

H.R.6166 also includes two technical changes to the law that will affect collectors. One change allows the U.S. Mint to change size of the planchet used for the National Park Bullion Program from 3-inches to a size between 2.5 and 3-inches. This will help the U.S. Mint deal with technical issues that has delayed the issue of the five ounce bullion coins.

For fans of the American Eagle proof programs, a wording change in the law allows the U.S. Mint to divert gold and silver to meet the demand for numismatic collectible coins. The change does not set minimum or maximum limits of coins struck but it will prevent future gaps in our collections.

Speaking of the American Eagle program, the Senate also passed the American Eagle Palladium Bullion Coin Act of 2010 (H.R.6166). The bill was introduced by Rep. Dennis Rehberg (R-MT) in support of the primary support of palladium mining in Montana where 95-percent of all United States palladium deposits are. The new law will add a one-ounce .9995 fine palladium bullion coin to the American Eagle Bullion Program. The coin will have a $25 face value and require that “the obverse shall bear a high-relief likeness of the ‘Winged Liberty’ design used on the obverse of the so-called ‘Mercury dime’” making it yet another bullion coin that will feature a design from the early 20th century. For the reverse, the law says that the coin “shall bear a high-relief version of the reverse design of the 1907 American Institute of Architects medal.” Both the Mercury Dime and 1907 AIA medal were design by Adolph A. Weinman, whose Walking Liberty design is used on the American Silver Eagle coins.

When the same bill passes both houses of congress, the bill is formally enrolled by being printed in the Congressional Record and printed on archival paper before being sent to the White House for the president’s signature. President Obama is expected to sign both bills when the paperwork makes it way down Pennsylvania Avenue.

1938 Mercury Dime image is owned by the author.
Image of the 1907 AIA Medal copied from Architecture: celebrating the past, designing the future by Nancy B. Solomon.

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