This article was originally printed in the latest issue of Numismatic News.
>> Subscribe today!
Congressional Demo-crats had the stuffings kicked out of them Nov. 2 suffering many more than the 39 needed to turn over control of the House of Representatives to the GOP and making John Boehner of Ohio the new Speaker of the House and giving Rep. Ron Paul a subcommittee chairmanship from which to wield an increased influence.
Republicans needed a gain of 39 seats to obtain control in the House, but picked up more than 60 seats. There are 435 members in the House, with 218 seats needed for operational control.
The GOP came up short in the U.S. Senate. The party gained at least six seats but needed 10. Some races were still too close to call at press time. Battles will be decided within the next week or so.
With the election losses, a number of changes are anticipated that will affect coin and currency matters. The House Financial Services Committee, once known as the Banking & Currency Committee, which has been chaired by Rep. Barney Frank of Massachussetts will now see Rep. Spencer Bachus of Alabama take over. The subcommittees will also change as well as seniority rankings.
The Slacker's Guide to U.S. History
Gone from the House GOP list will be Rep. Mike Castle of Delaware, who lost a Senate primary. He was second ranking on the committee. The Subcommittee on Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit goes from Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois to Rep Jeb Hensarling of Texas, now the Ranking GOP Member.
Subcommittee on Domestic Monetary Policy and Technology will see its chair go from Rep Melvin Watt of North Carolina to Rep Ron Paul of Texas. This subcommittee was in the spotlight recently as the place where Mint Director Ed Moy said in July that it might be possible to strike proof silver American Eagles this year as well as its Goldline hearing in September. Paul’s son Rand is a new senator from Kentucky.
Subcommittee on International Monetary Policy and Trade sees Rep. Gregory Meeks of New York leave as chair to be succeeded by today’s ranking minority member, Rep. Gary G Miller of California. Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations will go from Rep. Dennis Moore of Kansas to Rep. Judy Biggert of Illinois.
All of these changes might impact coinage if the jurisdictions of the subcommittees are altered, as some believe they will be. The issue will be to divide this responsibility: “oversight hearings about the state of U.S. coins and currency” and examining “the roles the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, U.S. Mint, Federal Reserve and United States Secret Service play in managing the circulation of all U.S. coins and currency and in implementing anti-counterfeiting measures to safeguard the U.S. money supply.” Also at issue: the federal government’s response to the rising costs of copper and nickel and metals used to manufacture coins.
House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey of Wisconsin, who retired, will be succeeded by Rep. Jerry Lewis of California. Lewis chaired the committee from 2005-2007. Mint and BEP matters are headed up by Rep. José E. Serrano of New York, but now likely go to Rep. Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri.
Ways & Means, which raises money (including surcharges on commemorative coins) will likely see Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan as the new chair.
In the Senate, which the Democrats held, the Banking Committee Chair, Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut retired after 30 years. Tim Johnson of South Dakota currently is the ranking Democrat.
There will be more changes as the parties caucus in the next several weeks, choosing their committee chairs as well as membership and working out agendas.