For the fifth time in as many Congresses, legislation to authorize the equivalent of a six-coin extension to the 50-state quarter program has passed the House of Representatives. Action came at 1:28 p.m. on Jan. 23, 2007, passed on the consent calendar unanimously. The last time it had similarly passed was in the wee morning hours of Dec. 9, 2006, as the last sands of the 109th Congress slipped through the hour glass.
The 2006 action then shifted to the Senate, which adjourned an hour later without taking action, thus killing the measure. Under legislative rules, the initiative dies when the session of Congress terminates, and must be reintroduced, which it was, if it is to become a reality.
Providing for inclusion of a circulating quarter dollar coin program for the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the United States Virgin Islands, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, H.R. 392 would add an 11th year to the existing 10-year program, currently slated to terminate in 2008.
Six additional coins would be struck the following year, presumably at the rate of about one in every eight weeks, compared to the rate now employed of approximately one every 10 weeks.
Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chair of the House Financial Services Committee, was a co-sponsor of the measure introduced by Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., the non-voting delegate from Washington, D.C. He gave it a green light by placing it on the consent calendar Jan. 10. Action came before the Jan. 31 reorganization of the Financial Services unit, a surprise.
Action again shifts to the Senate which has no parallel measure and may consider and pass the House version. In the past, hidden opposition in the Senate has blocked action to approve the measure. A Presidential signature is also required.