When will Congress ever learn

It’s back!

(Image courtesy of Heritage Auctions)

The inane concept of the $1 trillion coin has reared its ugly head again by a member of congress that lost the ability to think after being elected.

The idea was first conjured up in 2013 by conservative economists and pundits with some minor vocal support from some members of congress. It was brought up again in 2020 by a liberal freshman member who missed the earlier lessons about why it is a stupid idea.

Now Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) has doubled down on the moronic by introducing S. 185, Cancel the Coin Act, to “remove the Treasury Secretary’s ability to mint coins of any value.”

Mike Lee was first elected to the Senate in 2011. He was in congress when the discussion of the $1 trillion coin began. Nearly every competent member of congress on both sides of the aisle dismissed the idea. They understood that issuing a $1 trillion coin will not work.

Lee did not learn the lesson.

Lee introduced the Cancel the Coin Act as a partisan measure because he is suddenly worried about a federal deficit. Even though the deficit was projected to be $1.083 trillion before the pandemic on a budget he voted for, Lee becomes concerned because a different party is in the White House.

The last time the government tried to curb deficit spending and manipulate coinage, Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon was on his way to being impeached. President Herbert Hoover appointed Mellon as Ambassador to the Court of St. James to get him out of town.

With the worldwide economy crashing, gold was becoming the primary means of international trade. Gold exports were happening faster than could be managed. To stop the hemorrhaging of money, congress passed the Emergency Banking Act on March 9, 1933, with bipartisan support. The act allowed the government to close the banks to allow the system to be recapitalized. It would be the last bank holiday of the Great Depression.

Om May 1, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 6102 to recall gold held by the public except for some coins and jewelry. The gold would go to replenishing the country’s gold reserves. The Gold Reserve Act of 1934 codified the Executive Order.

From this point, we can pick up the story of the 1933 Saint Gaudens Double Eagles.

President Gerald Ford reversed Roosevelt’s Executive Order the same day that the law that reverse the Gold Reserve Act was signed: December 31, 1974.

While the story of the 1933 Double Eagles makes for an intriguing drama, the lesson of unintended consequences should be a concern over making political statements the way Sen. Lee is doing.

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Numismatic Legislation Review for the 116th Congress

Since the 117th Congress just convened and other work has taken their time, there have been no numismatic-related bills introduced. So let’s take the time to review the numismatic-related legislation from the 116th Congress.

Political analysts describe the 116th Congress as frantic and chaotic. When looking at the numismatic-related legislation, this congress was very active. Since tracking numismatic-related bills for the last five congressional sessions, the 116th Congress introduced more numismatic-related legislation than previous sessions.

Representatives introduced two unique bills, one of which resulted in a law with wide-ranging changes. The Route 66 Centennial Commission Act would have created a commission to honor the centennial of the famed Route 66. The law allowed the commission to recommend commemorative coin programs that would have likely led to fundraising efforts for the route’s preservation. The Route 66 Centennial Commission Act (H.R. 66) passed in the House but died in the Senate.

The United States Semiquincentennial Quarter Series Act would have created a quarters series to celebrate the nation’s 250th anniversary. Along with several others, this bill was combined into the Circulating Collectible Coin Redesign Act of 2020 (Public Law No. 116-330). What sets this law apart is that it creates changing circulation coin designs for the next ten years.

Numismatic Laws

The following were passed by Congress and signed by the President. Some of these laws have lead to new commemorative issues by the U.S. Mint, like the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemorative Coin Act.

  • S. 239: Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act of 2019
    Sponsor: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
    Summary: (Sec. 3) This bill directs the Department of the Treasury to mint and issue not more than 350,000 $1 silver coins in commemoration of Christa McAuliffe, a teacher tragically killed in the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster. (Sec. 4) The design of the coins shall bear an image and the name of Christa McAuliffe on the obverse side and a design on the reverse side that depicts the legacy of McAuliffe as a teacher. (Sec. 5) Treasury may issue the coins from January 1-December 31, 2020. (Sec. 7) All surcharges received by Treasury from the sale of the coins shall be paid to the FIRST robotics program for the purpose of engaging and inspiring young people, through mentor-based programs, to become leaders in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
    LAST ACTION: Signed by the President and became Public Law No: 116-65. — Oct 9, 2019

  • H.R. 2423: Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemorative Coin Act
    Sponsor: Rep. Elise M. Stefanik (R-NY)
    Summary: (Sec. 3) This bill directs the Department of the Treasury to mint and issue up to 400,000 $1 silver coins that are emblematic of the women who played a vital role in rallying support for the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (Sec. 5) Such coins may be issued during the period beginning on January 1, 2020, and ending on December 31, 2020. (Sec. 7) All surcharges received from the sales of such coins shall be paid to the American Women’s History Initiative of the Smithsonian Institution.
    LAST ACTION: Signed by the President and became Public Law No: 116-71. — Nov 25, 2019

  • H.R. 1865: Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020
    Sponsor: Rep. William J. Pascrell (D-NJ)
    Summary: The National Law Enforcement Museum Commemorative Coin Act is buried in this law.
    LAST ACTION: Signed by the President and became Public Law No: 116-94. — Dec 20, 2019

  • S. 457: President George H.W. Bush and First Spouse Barbara Bush Coin Act
    Sponsor: Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX)
    Summary: President George H. W. Bush and First Spouse Barbara Bush Coin Act This bill requires the issuance of
    • $1 coins bearing the image of President George H.W. Bush for a one-year period beginning on January 1, 2020, and
    • bullion coins bearing the image of First Spouse Barbara Bush during that same period.

    LAST ACTION: Signed by the President and became Public Law No: 116-112. — Jan 27, 2020

  • H.R. 4104: Negro Leagues Baseball Centennial Commemorative Coin Act
    Sponsor: Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO)
    Summary: This bill directs the Department of the Treasury to mint and issue up to 50,000 $5 gold coins, 400,000 $1 silver coins, and 400,000 half-dollar clad coins in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Negro National League, a professional baseball league that was formed in response to African-American players being banned from baseball’s major leagues. The design of the coins shall be emblematic of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and its mission to promote tolerance, diversity, and inclusion. Only during a one-year period beginning on January 1, 2022, may Treasury issue coins minted under this bill. All surcharges from sales of these coins shall be paid to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum to fund educational and outreach programs and exhibits. Treasury shall develop and execute a marketing, advertising, promotional, and educational program to promote the collecting of these coins.
    LAST ACTION: Signed by the President and became Public Law No: 116-209. — Dec 4, 2020

  • H.R. 1830: National Purple Heart Hall of Honor Commemorative Coin Act
    Sponsor: Rep. Sean P. Maloney (D-NY)
    Summary: This bill directs the Department of the Treasury to mint and issue $5 gold coins, $1 silver coins, and half-dollar clad coins emblematic of the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor. The bill limits the issuance of such coins to the one-year period beginning on January 1, 2022. The bill prescribes surcharges for coin sales, which shall be paid to the National Purple Heart Honor Mission, Inc., to support the mission of such organization, including capital improvements to the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor facilities.
    LAST ACTION: Signed by the President and became Public Law No: 116-247. — Dec 22, 2020

  • H.R. 6192: 1921 Silver Dollar Coin Anniversary Act
    Sponsor: Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY)
    Summary: (Sec. 3) The Department of the Treasury shall mint and issue $1 coins in recognition of the 100th anniversary of completion of coinage of the Morgan dollar and the 100th anniversary of commencement of coinage of the Peace dollar. (Sec. 5) Treasury may issue such coins beginning on January 1, 2021. (Sec.6) Treasury must sell such coins at a price equal to the sum of their face value and the cost of designing and issuing the coins and may make bulk sales of the coins issued at a reasonable discount.
    LAST ACTION: Signed by the President and became Public Law No: 116-286. — Jan 5, 2021

  • H.R. 1923: Circulating Collectible Coin Redesign Act of 2020
    Sponsor: Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
    Summary: Women’s History and Nineteenth Amendment Centennial Quarter Dollar Coin Program Act This bill requires the Department of the Treasury to mint and issue quarter-dollar coins in commemoration of the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment granting women the right to vote. The design on the reverse of each coin shall be emblematic of the accomplishments and contributions of a prominent woman who was a resident of a state, the District of Columbia, or a U.S. territory. Such coins shall be issued in alphabetical order of the area represented, starting with the state of Alabama. Treasury shall
    • initiate a program to promote collection of the coins and recognition of their subjects, and
    • strike and make available for sale silver bullion coins that are the exact duplicates of the coins.

    LAST ACTION: Signed by the President and became Public Law No: 116-330. — Jan 13, 2021

A previous post described the full impact of Public Law No. 116-330.

Passed by the House

The following bills were passed by the House of Representatives but died in committee in the Senate.

  • H.R. 66: Route 66 Centennial Commission Act
    Sponsor: Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL)
    Summary: This bill establishes the Route 66 Centennial Commission to honor Route 66 on the occasion of its centennial anniversary. The Department of Transportation shall prepare a plan on the preservation needs of Route 66.
    Passed the House of Representatives — Feb 6, 2019
    LAST ACTION: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works. — Feb 7, 2019

  • H.R. 7995: Coin Metal Modification Authorization and Cost Savings Act of 2020
    Sponsor: Rep. Mark E. Amodei (R-NV)
    Summary: This bill authorizes the United States Mint to modify the metallic composition of circulating coins (including by prescribing reasonable manufacturing tolerances with respect to those coins) if a study and analysis conducted by the Mint indicates that the modification will
    • reduce costs incurred by the taxpayers;
    • be seamless, which shall be determined by verifying that the coins will work interchangeably in most coin acceptors using electromagnetic signature technology; and
    • have as minimal an adverse impact as possible on the public and stakeholders.

    The Mint must notify Congress before making the modification and provide a justification for the modification.
    Passed the House of Representatives with amendments — Dec 2, 2020
    LAST ACTION: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. — Dec 3, 2020

Passed by the Senate

The following bill was passed by the Senate but died in committee in the House of Representatives.

  • S. 1235: Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commemorative Coin Act
    Sponsor: Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)
    Summary: (Sec. 3) This bill directs the Department of the Treasury to mint and issue up to 400,000 $1 silver coins that are emblematic of the women who played a vital role in rallying support for the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (Sec. 5) Such coins may be issued during the period beginning on January 1, 2020, and ending on December 31, 2020. (Sec. 7) All surcharges received from the sales of such coins shall be paid to the American Women’s History Initiative of the Smithsonian Institution.
    Passed the Senate with amendments — Jun 4, 2019
    LAST ACTION: Held at the desk. — Jun 5, 2019

It is common for members in both chambers to submit the same bills on both sides of the capitol. These bills are usually non-controversial and increase the chances of passage. The version of the bill that gets passed depends on politics and timing. S. 1235 was superseded by H.R. 2423 that became Public Law No. 116-71.

Died In Committee

The following bills were introduced but were never acted upon. They are called bills that died in committee. If a member wants the 117th Congress to consider their bill, they are required to submit it again.

House of Representatives
  • H.R. 61: Carson City Mint 150th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act of 2019
  • H.R. 500: Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act of 2019
  • H.R. 636: Muhammad Ali Commemorative Coin Act
  • H.R. 1089: Monetary Metals Tax Neutrality Act of 2019
  • H.R. 1173: President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush Dollar Coin Act
  • H.R. 1257: United States Coast Guard Commemorative Coin Act of 2019
  • H.R. 1805: Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Centennial Commemorative Coin Act
  • H.R. 1982: National Women’s Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Act
  • H.R. 2558: To define the dollar as a fixed weight of gold.
  • H.R. 2559: Gold Reserve Transparency Act of 2019
  • H.R. 2630: Cash Always Should be Honored Act
  • H.R. 2650: Payment Choice Act of 2019
  • H.R. 3155: 75th Anniversary of the End of World War II Commemorative Coin Act
  • H.R. 3483: Integration of Baseball Commemorative Coin Act
  • H.R. 3757: 1921 Silver Dollar Commemorative Coin Act
  • H.R. 4332: Paul Laurence Dunbar Commemorative Coin Act
  • H.R. 4681: National World War II Memorial Commemorative Coin Act
  • H.R. 4940: Texas Ranger Division’s 200th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act
  • H.R. 5537: Conan Commemorative Coin Act
  • H.R. 5873: Harriet Tubman Bicentennial Commemorative Coin Act
  • H.R. 6555: United States Semiquincentennial Quarter Series Act
  • H.R. 6923: Coronavirus Front-Line Responders Commemorative Coin Act
  • H.R. 8242: National Women’s Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Act of 2020
Senate
  • S. 509: United States Coast Guard Commemorative Coin Act of 2019
  • S. 639: Tomb of the Unknown Soldier Centennial Commemorative Coin Act
  • S. 1300: National Law Enforcement Museum Commemorative Coin Act
  • S. 1794: CENTS Act
  • S. 1954: Integration of Baseball Commemorative Coin Act
  • S. 2042: National Purple Heart Hall of Honor Commemorative Coin Act
  • S. 2427: Women’s History and Nineteenth Amendment Centennial Quarter Dollar Coin Program Act
  • S. 2815: National Purple Heart Honor Mission Commemorative Coin Act
  • S. 4006: Coin Metal Modification Authorization and Cost Savings Act of 2020
  • S. 4326: 1921 Silver Dollar Coin Anniversary Act
  • S. 4663: Coin Metal Modification Authorization and Cost Savings Act of 2020
  • S. 4730: Circulating Collectible Coin Redesign Act of 2020
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Weekly World Numismatic News for January 17, 2021

1994-P Washington QuarterThe president has signed the last numismatic-related bill this past week. On January 13, 2021, the president signed the Circulating Collectible Coin Redesign Act of 2020 (Public Law No. 116-330). It was the last possible day to sign the bill. If he did not sign it, the bill would be subjected to a pocket veto.

  • H.R. 1923: Circulating Collectible Coin Redesign Act of 2020
    Sponsor: Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
    LAST ACTION: Signed by the President and became Public Law No: 116-330. — Jan 13, 2021

The law will require the U.S. Mint to redesign the quarters’ reverse through 2030, starting in 2022.

Prominent American Women Quarters

For the quarters issued between 2022 and 2025, “The design on the reverse side of each quarter dollar issued under this subsection shall be emblematic of the accomplishments and contributions of one prominent woman of the United States.” The U.S. Mint will issue “up to” five quarters per year and confer with several groups to determine who receives the honor.

United States Semiquincentennial Coins

The United States will celebrate its seniquincentennial (250th Anniversary) on July 4, 2026. In celebration of the event, the law states that the U.S. Mint will issue the following coins:

  • QUARTERS: 2026 quarters “with up to five different designs emblematic of the United States semiquincentennial.” One quarter must be design to be emblematic of the contribution of a woman or women.
  • DOLLARS: orders the Mint to issue “$1 dollar coins with designs emblematic of the United States semiquincentennial.” These dollar coins will be issued in addition to the Native American and Innovation dollars.

Youth Sports Program

The law requires the U.S. Mint to celebrate youth sports with changes to the quarter and half-dollars to correspond to the Summer Olympic games of 2028 and the Winter games of 2030. This program will run from 2027 through 2030.

  • QUARTERS: Up to five coins issued each year “shall be emblematic of one sport played by American youth.”
  • HALF-DOLLARS: Up to five coins issued each year “emblematic of one Paralympic sport.”
  • MEDALS: The law authorizes the U.S. Mint to create “medals with designs emblematic of the sport honored with the issuance of the coin.”

Medals for the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles

The law authorizes the U.S. Mint “to design and manufacture medals for awarding at the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, California.” The law makes it the first time in the modern Olympics history that the U.S. Mint will create the games’ medals. Previously, the Olympic committees had a private vendor create the medals. According to the International Olympic Committee website, medals for the games played in the United States were created by the following:

Year Games Location Minter of the Medals
1904 Summer St. Louis Diege & Clust
1932 Summer Los Angeles The Whitehead & Hoag Co.
1932 Winter Lake Placid Robbins Company
1960 Winter Squaw Valley Herff Jones
1980 Winter Lake Placid Medallic Art Co.
1984 Summer Los Angeles Jostens, Inc
1996 Summer Atlanta Reed and Barton
2002 Winter Salt Lake City O.C. Tanner

Silver Bullion Coins

The new law allows the U.S. Mint to continue to make the five-ounce silver bullion coins that correspond to each of the quarter and half-dollar programs. Interestingly, the silver hockey-puck-sized coins appear to be popular and will continue to be available to collectors and investors.

Also added to the law is the ability to strike factional silver bullion coins with the same designs. It is uncertain if a half-ounce or quarter-ounce silver coin will sell, but we will find out.

Obverse of the Coins

George Washington will continue to appear on the obverse but “be designed in a manner, such as with incused inscriptions, so as to distinguish it from the obverse design used during the previous quarters program.”

The bill includes similar language for the image of John F. Kennedy on the 2026 Semiquincentennial half-dollar.

And now the news…

 January 8, 2021
Coin collecting is viewed by many enthusiasts to be a form of modern day treasure hunting, as shops in South Beloit and Beloit continue to do well as collectors come seeking rare finds, or simply to make an investment in precious metals.  → Read more at beloitdailynews.com

 January 11, 2021
The world’s finest Brasher Doubloon, the most legendary U.S gold coin ever produced, is heading for auction at Heritage this month. The 18th century coin is described as “arguably the world’s most famous numismatic rarity”, and is one of only seven examples known to exist.  → Read more at news.justcollecting.com

 January 13, 2021
Ongoing excavations at a rural spot near the village of Újlengyel in central Hungary recently struck gold, both figuratively and literally. Archaeologists armed with powerful metal detectors found a buried treasure of approximately seven thousand silver and four medieval  gold coins  in Hungary, hidden centuries ago by unknown individuals.  → Read more at ancient-origins.net

 January 14, 2021
Egypt: Archaeologists find coins with Cleopatra’s face on Thousands of objects including ancient coins, pottery and sculpture thousands of years old have been secured, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) has confirmed.  → Read more at express.co.uk
Coin Collectors News
news.coinsblog.ws

 

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One more bill from the 116th Congress

My parents taught me that there is a time and place for everything. Even though a discussion about the current state of politics is relevant, a blog about numismatics is not the place for that discussion. Thus, anything I write about politics and public policy will focus on how it affects numismatics. I appreciate your understanding and your readership.

1994-P Washington QuarterWith the 116th Congress gaveled to a closed, the only numismatic-related bill left to watch is H.R. 1923, Circulating Collectible Coin Redesign Act of 2020. The House of Representatives agreed with the Senate’s amendment on December 31, 2020, and sent it to the White House on January 1, 2021. The president has until January 13, 2021, to sign the bill into law. If he does not sign the bill, it becomes the victim of a pocket veto.

  • H.R. 1923: Circulating Collectible Coin Redesign Act of 2020
    Sponsor: Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
    Passed the House of Representatives — Sep 22, 2020
    Passed the Senate with amendments — Dec 17, 2020
    LAST ACTION: Presented to President. — Jan 1, 2021

For a description of what coinage is included in H.R. 1923, see the September 2020 Numismatic Legislation Review.

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UPDATE: SIGNED! (No ’21 Silver Dollars, yet!)

UPDATE (Jan 5, 2021, NOON): A message was transmitted to Congress that the president signed H.R. 6192 along with several other bills on his desk that were received on December 24, 2020.

1921 Peace DollarSeveral readers asked about the timeline for the president’s signature on H.R. 6192, 1921 Silver Dollar Coin Anniversary Act, and whether he signed the bill.

  • H.R. 6192: 1921 Silver Dollar Coin Anniversary Act
    Sponsor: Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY)
    Passed the House of Representatives — Sep 22, 2020
    Passed the Senate with amendments — Dec 17, 2020
    LAST ACTION: Presented to President. — Dec 24, 2020

According to the Government Printing Office, the United States government’s official publisher, H.R. 6192 was presented to the president on December 24, 2020. The U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 7, Clause 2 says that the president has ten days to act. If the president does not sign the bill and Congress is in session, the bill becomes law without the president’s signature. If Congress adjourns during that ten-day period, an unsigned bill is vetoed, called a pocket veto.

Documents from the Justice Department notes that the ten-day period does not include Sunday. A follow-up call to the Justice Department noted that Christmas Day does not count as part of the ten days, but New Years Day counts. The Clerk of the House’s office confirmed this information.

The president has until Wednesday, January 6, 2021, to act on the bill. If he does not sign H.R. 6192 into law, it will be the victim of a pocket veto since the 116th Congress formally adjourned sine die (without a date) the morning of Sunday, January 3, 2021, as constitutionally required.

Since watching numismatic legislation has been a feature of the Coin Collectors Blog (since 2005), the White House Press Office would post bill signings on whitehouse.gov. Unfortunately, the current administration has provided uneven coverage of bill signings not in the news. The GPO will probably publish this news before the White House releases the information.

December 2020 Numismatic Legislation Review

The Weekly World Numismatic News will return next week.

Seal of the United States CongressThe U.S. Mint is unique because it is the only mint in the world to be controlled by a legal process that requires the government to coordinate its policy. While other mints have requirements to clear specific actions with their parliament or legislative bodies, the U.S. Mint cannot do anything without an act of congress, including changing coin designs.

Congress’s micromanagement of the U.S. Mint is their interpretation of Article I Section 8 of the United States Constitution that says, “The Congress shall have Power… To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin.” It does not say that congress must micromanage the U.S. Mint, nor does it say that congress has to be involved in the design.

Although commemorative coin programs require legislation, over the last 20 years, congress considers these bills as time-fillers when other business does not require their attention. Most of the commemorative coin bills rarely receive a hearing in their committees and usually pass by unanimous consent. These bills are handled to show the general public congress is doing something while brushing it off like dandruff on their shoulders.

With congress putting off difficult negotiations until after elections, the lame-duck session becomes the dumping ground for hard negotiations, usually about spending money and fluff. While congressional leaders negotiated the hard stuff, congress meets and passes bills that have little meaning to the general public. Most numismatic bills have little meaning for the general public. However, passing these bills gives them something to talk about.

Let’s look at the five bills that congress acted on in December:

  • H.R. 1830: National Purple Heart Hall of Honor Commemorative Coin Act
    Sponsor: Rep. Sean P. Maloney (D-NY)
    LAST ACTION: Signed by the President and became Public Law No: 116-247. — Dec 22, 2020

Initially introduced in the House in March 2019, the bill creates a 2022 commemorative coin program to support the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor in New Windsor, New York. The bill was heard during the cleanup, and the lame-duck session finally passing on December 2. president signed the bill on December 22, 2020.

  • H.R. 1923: Circulating Collectible Coin Redesign Act of 2020
    Sponsor: Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA)
    Passed the House of Representatives — Sep 22, 2020
    Passed the Senate with amendments — Dec 17, 2020
    LAST ACTION: Message on Senate action sent to the House. — Dec 18, 2020

Initially, this bill was called the Women’s History and Nineteenth Amendment Centennial Quarter Dollar Coin Program Act. Somewhere along the line, congress changed the title. This bill will create a new quarters series to honor women from each state involved with suffrage and the Nineteenth Amendment. The bill was passed by the lame-duck Senate and awaits the president’s signature.

Even though this bill passed the House and Senate, the Senate amended the bill. The House has to agree with the changes, or the bill must go to a Conference Committee to work out the differences. Since the House has not acted on the amendment, the bill is likely to die when congress adjourns sine die on January 3, 2021.

Adjourning sine die, or without a date, is the final adjournment of congress. It will be the formal close of the 116th congress. The 117th congress gaveled in for their first day of business today, on January 3, 2021, as required by the U.S. Constitution.

  • H.R. 4104: Negro Leagues Baseball Centennial Commemorative Coin Act
    Sponsor: Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO)
    LAST ACTION: Signed by the President and became Public Law No: 116-209. — Dec 4, 2020

This law authorizes a 2022 commemorative coin program to honor the centennial establishment of the Negro Leagues. The surcharges from the coin sales will benefit the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City.

  • H.R. 6192: 1921 Silver Dollar Coin Anniversary Act
    Sponsor: Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY)
    Passed the House of Representatives — Sep 22, 2020
    Passed the Senate with amendments — Dec 17, 2020
    LAST ACTION: Presented to President. — Dec 24, 2020

The bill that has been all over the numismatic media will allow the U.S. Mint to strike 2021 Morgan and Peace dollars. Congress sent the bill to the president on December 24, 2020. It is waiting for his signature. Constitutionally, he has ten days to act on the bill. Since these are calendar days, January 2, 2021, is the tenth day.

If congress was in session on January 2, the bill becomes law without the president’s signature. If congress adjourned sine die, then the bill is the victim of a pocket veto. There is an indication that congress is still in session discussing updates to the recent COVID-19 stimulus package.

  • H.R. 7995: Coin Metal Modification Authorization and Cost Savings Act of 2020
    Sponsor: Rep. Mark E. Amodei (R-NV)
    Passed the House of Representatives with amendments — Dec 2, 2020
    LAST ACTION: Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. — Dec 3, 2020

The House rushed to pass this bill because it allows them to look like they did something. The Senate did not consider this bill and will allow it to die when congress adjourns. It is a bad bill and should die with the end of this congress.

When the 116th Congress adjourns for the final time, any legislation not passed will be considered dead. The slate is wiped clean, and the 117th Congress starts anew. It could be something to look forward to in 2021!

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Lame-Duck Still Doing Business

Seal of the United States CongressAs expected, the lame-duck Congress is well on its way to passing numismatic-related legislation on its way out the door. While the four leaders and their representatives negotiate other business, the rest of the members kept themselves busy doing the usual end-of-session clean up work. Here is a quick update on December’s actions:

  • H.R. 4104: Negro Leagues Baseball Centennial Commemorative Coin Act
    LAST ACTION: Signed by President. Became Public Law No: 116-209. — Dec 4, 2020
  • H.R. 1830: National Purple Heart Hall of Honor Commemorative Coin Act
    LAST ACTION: Presented to President. — Dec 11, 2020 (Not signed, yet)
  • H.R. 1923: Circulating Collectible Coin Redesign Act of 2020
    (Women’s History and Nineteenth Amendment Centennial Quarter Dollar Coin Program Act)
    PASSED THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES — Sep 22, 2020
    PASSED THE SENATE with an amendment — Dec 17, 2020
    LAST ACTION: Message on Senate action sent to the House. — Dec 18, 2020
  • H.R. 6192: 1921 Silver Dollar Coin Anniversary Act
    PASSED THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES — Sep 22, 2020
    PASSED THE SENATE with an amendment — Dec 17, 2020
    LAST ACTION: Message on Senate action sent to the House. — Dec 18, 2020
  • H.R. 7995: Coin Metal Modification Authorization and Cost Savings Act of 2020
    PASSED THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES — Dec 2, 2020
    LAST ACTION: Received in the Senate and assigned to committee — Dec 3, 2020

H.R. 1923 was passed in the Senate with an amendment that prevents the U.S. Mint from selling the coins at a loss. H.R. 6192 saw the Senate replace almost all of the wording rather than making small tweaks in order to fix what amounts to clerical errors. Even though both amendments are technical changes and do not effect their purpose, the bill has to be returned to the House of Representatives for approval. If the House agrees with the Senate’s changes, then they will pass the bills and send them to the President for his signature. If not, the law requires that the changes be negotiated by a Conference Committee consisting of members from both chambers.

It is unlikely that a Conference Committee is necessary for these bills. Either the House will pass them by unanimous consent or they will die at the end of the session. The thought of another circulating quarters program is not exciting (H.R. 1923) but there are many numismatists who would like a 2021 Morgan and Peace Dollars.

As an interesting idea, if H.R. 6192 passes and the U.S. Mint strikes 2021 Morgan dollars, instead of a privy mark to celebrate the Carson City Mint, how about a counterstrike? Have a “CC” counterstruck on the eagle’s chest similar to the “EB” counterstrike on the Brasher Doubloon? That would be something different.

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November 2020 Numismatic Legislation Review

Seal of the United States CongressAs part of the Lame Duck session, when Congress attempts to look busy while leadership negotiates or stalls negotiations of spending bills, it is time to pass commemorative coin legislation.

First up is H.R. 1830, the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor Commemorative Coin Act. The bill will create a gold, silver, and clad half-dollar program in 2021 to honor the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor in New Windsor, New York. The bill passed the Senate with an amendment allowing the U.S. Mint to strike the coin anywhere if the U.S. Mint cannot exclusively strike the coins at the West Point Mint. The House has to agree with the amendment before being sent to the president for his signature.

H.R. 1830: National Purple Heart Hall of Honor Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Rep. Sean P. Maloney (D-NY)
Introduced: March 18, 2019
Summary: (Sec. 3) This bill directs the Department of the Treasury to mint and issue $5 gold coins, $1 silver coins, and half-dollar clad coins emblematic of the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor. (Sec. 5) The bill limits the issuance of such coins to the one-year period beginning on January 1, 2021. (Sec. 7) The bill prescribes surcharges for coin sales, which shall be paid to the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, Inc., to support the mission of such organization, including capital improvements to the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor facilities.
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Mar 18, 2019
Introduced in House — Mar 18, 2019
Mr. San Nicolas moved to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended. — Sep 19, 2019
Considered under suspension of the rules. — Sep 19, 2019
DEBATE – The House proceeded with forty minutes of debate on H.R. 1830. — Sep 19, 2019
On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by voice vote. — Sep 19, 2019
Passed/agreed to in House: On motion to suspend the rules and pass the bill, as amended Agreed to by voice vote. — Sep 19, 2019
Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection. — Sep 19, 2019
Received in the Senate and Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. — Sep 23, 2019
Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent. — Nov 16, 2020
Passed/agreed to in Senate: Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent. — Nov 16, 2020
Measure laid before Senate by unanimous consent. — Nov 16, 2020
Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs discharged by Unanimous Consent. — Nov 16, 2020
Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent. (text of amendment in the nature of a substitute: CR S6694) — Nov 16, 2020
Passed/agreed to in Senate: Passed Senate with an amendment by Unanimous Consent.(text of amendment in the nature of a substitute: CR S6694) — Nov 16, 2020
Message on Senate action sent to the House. — Nov 17, 2020
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-HR1830.

The Senate found fewer issues with H.R. 4104, the Negro Leagues Baseball Centennial Commemorative Coin Act. The bill will create a gold, silver, and clad half-dollar program in 2022 to honor the Centennial of the Negro Leagues (2020) and raise funds for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri. The bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent and has been sent to the president for his signature.

H.R. 4104: Negro Leagues Baseball Centennial Commemorative Coin Act
Sponsor: Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO)
Introduced: July 30, 2019
Summary: This bill directs the Department of the Treasury to mint and issue up to 50,000 $5 gold coins, 400,000 $1 silver coins, and 750,000 half-dollar clad coins in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Negro National League, a professional baseball league that was formed in response to African-American players being banned from baseball’s major leagues. The design of the coins shall be emblematic of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and its mission to promote tolerance, diversity, and inclusion. All surcharges from sales of these coins shall be paid to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum to fund educational and outreach programs and exhibits.
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Jul 30, 2019
Introduced in House — Jul 30, 2019
Committee on Financial Services discharged. — Sep 22, 2020
Mr. Cleaver asked unanimous consent to discharge from committee and consider. — Sep 22, 2020
Considered by unanimous consent. — Sep 22, 2020
On passage Passed without objection. — Sep 22, 2020
Passed/agreed to in House: On passage Passed without objection. — Sep 22, 2020
On passage Passed without objection. (text of amendment in the nature of a substitute: CR H4710) — Sep 22, 2020
Motion to reconsider laid on the table Agreed to without objection. — Sep 22, 2020
Received in the Senate. — Sep 23, 2020
Received in the Senate, read twice. — Sep 23, 2020
Passed Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent. — Nov 16, 2020
Passed/agreed to in Senate: Passed Senate without amendment by Unanimous Consent. — Nov 16, 2020
Message on Senate action sent to the House. — Nov 17, 2020
Presented to President. — Nov 24, 2020
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-HR4104.

A source reported that H.R. 7995, the Coin Metal Modification Authorization and Cost Savings Act of 2020 has growing interest in both chambers. H.R. 7995 brings up interesting questions regarding policies and what Congress is requesting. More on this another time.

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2022 Commemorative Coin Programs Pass the Senate

Two commemorative coin bills introduced and passed in the House of Representatives were passed by the Senate this week. Both bills will create commemorative coin programs for 2022.

H.R. 1830: National Purple Heart Hall of Honor Commemorative Coin Act

Purple Heart

Purple Heart Medal (image courtesy of Stars and Stripes)

H.R. 1830 passed the Senate by unanimous consent. The resulting law will create gold $5, silver dollar, and clad half-dollar commemorative coins in honor of the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor in New Windsor, NY. Surcharges will be paid “to the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, Inc., to support the mission of the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor, Inc., including capital improvements to the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor facilities.”

It would have been interesting to require this coin to be in the shape of a heart. The obverse design could be similar to that of the Purple Heart medal. The reverse could be about the Hall of Honor or the sacrifice made by those awarded the Purple Heart.

I will likely purchase this commemorative coin in honor of my grandfather, a recipient of the Purple Heart for injuries sustained in Europe during World War I.

H. R. 4104: Negro Leagues Baseball Centennial Commemorative Coin Act

(From Twitter)

H. R. 4104 passed the Senate by unanimous consent will create gold $5, silver dollar, and clad half-dollar commemorative coins in honor of the centennial of the Negro Leagues. Although the centennial would be in 2020, the first available commemorative slot will be in 2022. Surcharges will be paid “to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum for educational and outreach programs and exhibits.” The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is located in Kansas City, MO.

Although the law will not require these coins to be curved, there is an opportunity for judicious use of color and selective highlights, such as those used for the enhanced strikes.

Both bills will become law when signed by the president.

Now that Congress has begun its Lame Duck session stay tuned for more numismatic bills to pass by unanimous consent.

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October 2020 Numismatic Legislation Review

Seal of the United States CongressAlthough many as said a lot about what Congress is doing, numismatically, there is nothing to report. It is typical for Congress to adjourn during October to allow members to campaign. If Congress takes up any business, they believe that it is beneficial to their campaign. Numismatic-related legislation does not make for compelling campaign ads.

The slowdown in paperwork for the Government Printing Office, who is responsible for publishing Congress’s documentation, uses the time to catch up. Several bills whose text was not posted to the Library of Congress’s website are available for review. As a result, the updates from October are adjusting titles and summaries based on the publishing of the bills’ text.

The 2020 Lame Duck session will be interesting. I do not expect any numismatic legislation to be considered until clean-up sessions in December.

H.R. 8242: National Women’s Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Act of 2020
Sponsor: Rep. Joseph D. Morelle (D-NY)
Introduced: September 14, 2020
Summary: This bill directs the Department of the Treasury to mint and issue $5 gold coins, $1 silver coins, half-dollar clad coins, and proof silver $1 coins in recognition and celebration of the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, New York. All minted coins shall include a specified surcharge, which shall be paid to the National Women’s Hall of Fame Foundation to establish an endowment fund to provide for the long-term financing of the hall’s operations.
Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. — Sep 14, 2020
Introduced in House — Sep 14, 2020
(Updated Bill Summary) — Oct 17, 2020
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-HR8242.

S. 4663: Coin Metal Modification Authorization and Cost Savings Act of 2020
Sponsor: Sen. Margaret W. Hassan (D-NH)
Introduced: September 23, 2020
Summary: This bill authorizes the United States Mint to modify the metallic composition of circulating coins (including by prescribing reasonable manufacturing tolerances with respect to those coins) if a study and analysis conducted by the Mint indicates that the modification will

  • reduce costs incurred by.taxpayers;
  • be seamless, which shall be determined by verifying that the coins will work interchangeably in most coin acceptors using electromagnetic signature technology; and
  • have as minimal an adverse impact as possible on the public and stakeholders.

The Mint must notify Congress before making the modification and provide a justification for the modification.

Read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. — Sep 23, 2020
Introduced in Senate — Sep 23, 2020
(Updated Bill Title) — Oct 17, 2020
This bill can be tracked at http://bit.ly/116-S4663.
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