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Senate calls for Lincoln $1 commemorative

Likelihood of a 2009 Abraham Lincoln bicentennial dollar grew June 29 when the Senate passed. S. 811. A comparable measure, H.R. 2808, is in the House with over 220 co-sponsors, not enough under House rules requiring 290 to get it to the floor, but more than a majority of the body’s membership, thus assuring passage when it does get there.

Lincoln will also be commemorated with five separate cent designs in 2009 by a law already passed. This year has been an active one for Congress considering coinage legislation, as various gaps are filled into the Mint’s already ambitious production schedule for numismatic coins.

The Abraham Lincoln Commemorative Coin Act, introduced as S. 811 on April 15, 2005, by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., calls for not more than not more than 500,000 silver $1 coins emblematic of the life and legacy of President Abraham Lincoln. A 2009 issue is asked for. The Mint would be primary sales agent. The Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee recommended the 2009 birth bicentennial issue in September 2003.

Another law, already passed, authorizes the U.S. Mint to make changes to the design of the cent for calendar year 2009, where four different designs would be circulating and one non-circulating, legal-tender copper “penny” would be issued to commemorate the bicentennial anniversary of the birth of Lincoln.

The four Lincoln circulating designs would embody various aspects of his life from youth to the White House. Beginning in calendar year 2010 the reverse side of the cent would bear an emblematic image of Lincoln’s preservation of the United States as a a single united country.

This could, of course, be the current Lincoln Memorial or it could be an entirely new design.

The secretary of the Treasury is also required to issue a one-cent coin in 2009 with the “exact metallic content as the 1-cent coin contained in 1909.” These are strictly for collectors, or as the bill puts it, “for numismatic purposes.”

The four circulating coin designs are an expansion of the success of the state quarter program and Lewis and Clark nickels, but are destined to be a money-loser. The design themes are clever, however; the reverses will be altered to “bear 4 different designs each representing a different aspect of the life of Abraham Lincoln” such as a his birth and early childhood in Kentucky; his formative years in Indiana; his professional life in Illinois; and his presidency, in Washington, D.C.

This program’s roots go back to the year 2000, when the House passed the Senate?s version of the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission Act that was signed by the president.

A special commemorative “penny” is referred to in the legislation. Planning ahead for events of the year 2009, the proposal established a bicentennial commission “to study and recommend to Congress activities that are fitting and proper to celebrate that anniversary in a manner that appropriately honors Abraham Lincoln.”

There are 15 members of the Commission, two of whom are appointed by the President; one each by the governors of Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana (where Lincoln once lived), five by the House; five by the Senate (three by the majority, two by the minority).

Nothing in the legislation precludes alterations or changes to the commemoration proposals, which indeed is what Congress is in the process of doing.

Some predict the Lincoln measure will now move toward passage in the House despite the rigid two-thirds rule, or that a move will be made to add sponsors after the 4th of July recess. Many members signed up June 29, the day of Senate passage.

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