Every two years, the United States elects a new Congress to carry on the people’s legislative business. The election last month will have the Democrats in control of the House of Representatives and the Republicans with an additional two seats in the Senate. While this has some profound implications for the political environment of the country, what does it mean for future numismatic-related legislation?
First, we have to conclude the business of the 115th Congress. When it comes to numismatic-related accomplishments, this congressional session yielded only two laws:
- The American Legion 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act (Public Law No: 115-65)
- American Innovation $1 Coin Act (Public Law No: 115-97)
The American Legion 100th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Program will be issued in 2019 along with the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary Commemorative Program. The American Innovation $1 Coin Program will also begin in 2019 that will likely be as successful as the Presidential $1 Coin Program. Someday, Congress will learn that to see any success with the $1 coin that they have to eliminate the $1 paper note.
Through November, Congress has not acted on any numismatic-related legislation. There have been updates on various bills as the current Congress shuffles papers and as others try to attract additional co-sponsors in order to gain notice by the majority leaders.
Given the current state of chaos in Congress, it is difficult to predict what will be passed in December.
The 116th Congress will convene at noon on January 3, 2019, as required by the Constitution. Most of the first day is set aside for procedural issues including the formal election of leadership. Both chambers will then introduce their respective first bills which formalize the budget. This has been a tradition in Congress dating back to the Reagan Administration. It has also been a tradition for these bills be the biggest source of contention between the parties.
For the last three congressional sessions, the Republican-controlled House Financial Services Committee created a rule that required two-thirds of the members to co-sponsor any commemorative coin legislation to be considered. In reality, this has not helped or hurt any potential legislation since many of the bills that have passed have barely been debated in committee and have been passed by unanimous consent.
It is not known if incoming Financial Services Committee Chairperson, Maxine Waters (D-CA), will keep the same rules. Given the recent history of contentious relations between the parties, it would not be surprising for Waters to dust off the rules from the previous Democratically-controlled House for this session.
Congress has not passed a commemorative coin bill for 2020 and later. It could happen in the lame-duck session. Then again, anything is possible!