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Quarter program adds territories

captour.jpgThe rush by Congress to pass a government appropriations bill just before Christmas has a numismatic twist: in it is an extension of the 50-state quarter program that would include the District of Columbia and five U.S. trust territories. It also would mandate removing ?In God We Trust? from the edge of Presidential dollars and placing the motto on the obverse.
The only thing remaining to make it law is the signature of President
George Bush.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act 2008 that passed the House of Representatives Dec. 17 is what will fund the government for the current fiscal year that began Oct.  1. Thus, it also contains a clause providing for the Mint?s manufacture of circulating coins, paid or out of the public enterprise fund established for such purpose.

?[The United States Mint is provided funding through the United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund for costs associated with the production of circulating coins, numismatic coins, and protective services, including both operating expenses and capital investments. The aggregate amount of new liabilities and obligations incurred during fiscal year 2008 … for circulating coinage and protective service capital investments of the United States Mint shall not exceed $33,200,000.?

That?s the normal and usual part. This year, there are also more than 9,000 earmarks, or amendments designed to fund various local congressional projects ? sometimes called pork barrel projects like Alaska?s bridge to nowhere.

President George Bush hinted he would veto the funding measure if the military did not get a supplemental appropriation for the Iraq presence.
Two numismatic amendments made it into the final House bill ? where under the Constitution, all appropriations bills must originate (though the Senate can amend them).

Section 622 adds an 11th year in 2009 to the 50-state quarter program and six more coins: Washington, D.C., and five insular territories: American Samoa, Guam, American Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands. Most have been American possessions for over a century.

Section 623 would require that the new Presidential dollar coin program remove the national motto, ?In God We Trust,? from the edge of the coin and restore it to the obverse, where it appears on all other  coin  issues.  The change would be required ?as soon as is practicable after the date of enactment.?

The House has passed legislation to extend the 50-state quarter program to 56 designs four previous times. In each instance, an anonymous ?hold? in the Senate precluded the Senate Banking Committee from holding hearings and from the majority leader bringing it to a recorded vote or approval by unanimous consent.

This time there were no mysterious holds. The holidays beckoned and the Senate swallowed the House version.

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