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Commems authorized in lame duck session

With the presidential election behind it, a lame duck session of Congress acted Nov. 17 when the Senate passed unanimously H.R. 5714, a bill that had already passed the House, to issue gold $5, silver dollar and copper-nickel half dollar commemorative coins honoring the U.S. Army in 2011.

The coins are intended to be a “celebration of the establishment of the United States Army of 1775, to honor the American soldier of both today and yesterday, in wartime and in peace, and to commemorate the traditions, history and heritage of the United States Army and its role in American society, from the Colonial period to today.”

In the days prior to the election, a number of commemorative coin bills were approved by the House and Senate and signed into law by President George W. Bush. These include:

• H.R. 3229, to require the secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of the legacy of the United States Army Infantry and the establishment of the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center. Signed on Oct. 8, 2008. (Public Law 110-357)

• H.R. 5872, to require the secretary of the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of the centennial of the Boy Scouts of America. Signed Oct. 8. (Public Law 110-363)
Then there are bills that have passed one house, but not the other – and remain candidates for lame duck action. (The name means that those voting are “lame” in that it includes members not re-elected in November). There are some 62 bills. Highlights follow:

• Two versions of the NASA 50th Anniversary Commemorative Coin Act that have passed are identical except for the Senate or House number. One must be chosen and the other house approve the change before it can be sent to the President for signature.

This calls for up to 50,000 gold one-ounce coins depicting the sun with a $50 face value and for up to 300,000 each of nine silver dollars depicting the nine planets in the solar system.

• To authorize the production in palladium of Saint-Gaudens double eagle coins as ultra-high relief numismatic coins and bullion investment coins.

• Mother’s Day Centennial Commemorative Coin Act. Passed House.

• Star-Spangled Banner and War of 1812 Bicentennial Commemorative Coin Act. Passed House.

• Civil Rights Act of 1964 Commemorative Coin Act. Passed House.

• America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008. Passed House. Similar to 50 states quarter program except it would honor parks.

• Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial Commemoration Act of 2007. Passed House.

Measures not approved by both houses before the 111th Congress convenes on Jan. 3, 2009, die with the conclusion of the 110th Congress. Measures that pass may be signed by

President Bush before he leaves office Jan. 20 provided it is not more than 10 days after presented; otherwise, it’s a “pocket veto.” Then the measure must be reintroduced if it is to go forward in the new Congress.

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