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Museum tours accelerate commem bill

Legislation that passed the House June 10 to strike a silver dollar commemorative coin benefitting the National Infantry museum in Georgia was given an attentive boost during the Congressional summer recess when both of the state’s Republican senators toured the site in mid-August.

The National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center Commemorative Coin Act, awaiting action by the Senate after House passage, directs the Secretary of the Treasury to mint and issue $1 coins emblematic of the courage, pride, sacrifice, sense of duty and history of the U.S. Infantry in 2012.

H.R. 3229 also provides that the sense of Congress is that the coins should be struck at the U.S. Mint at West Point, N.Y., to the greatest extent possible. Up to 350,000 coins may be minted, each carrying a $10 surcharge. Total construction cost for the museum honoring the “dogfaces” who won America’s freedom is estimated at $104 million.

National Infantry Foundation President Maj. Gen. Jerry White (Ret.) showed Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-GA, around the 185,000-square foot structure on Aug. 20.

He’s on target to repeat the tour for Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-GA, on Aug. 25.

This is a Republican sponsored bill that has already “sold” the democratic-controlled House. The Senate, with a one vote Democratic margin, is expected to follow suit.

On the House floor on June 10, Rep. Lincoln Davis, D-TN, shepherded the legislation through the House. His comments set the tone for the measure.

“The oldest and largest branch of the U.S. Army, the U.S. Army infantry, was established on June 14, 1775, when the Continental Congress ordered the formation of 10 companies of riflemen,” Davis said. “The riflemen comprised the first armed force of a new Nation, a Nation destined to become the greatest democracy the world has ever known. Since that time, the infantry has gone where other forces could not go and accomplished missions others could not attempt.

“From the Siege of Boston of 1775 to San Juan Hill, to the Battle of New Orleans, to the Argonne Forest, where Sergeant York distinguished himself, to the beaches of Normandy, they hunted the enemy in the Shau Valley, parachuted into Panama, and currently subdue our enemies on cold mountainside and hot desert sands in both Iraq and Afghanistan,” Davis declared.

And the bottom line: “when policy makers finished talking, when debate has ceased, when negotiations have failed and orders are given, it becomes the mission of the United States infantry to execute our national policy.”

Some 290 members, or two-thirds, of the House is a co-sponsor. A comparable bill, S. 3356, was introduced July 29 (legislative day July 28) by the two Georgia senators and Sen. Harry Reid, D-NV, the majority leader. That is a sure sign it will be treated quickly on the calendar.

The matter – both the Senate and House bill – has now been referred to the Senate Banking Committee, chaired by Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-CT. He will decide on timing and whether it’s hearings, consideration, or back to the drawing board.

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