US Coins

George H.W. Bush could get Presidential dollar

Congress is considering legislation that, if approved, would resurrect the Presidential and First Spouse coin programs, which ended with issues commemorating Ronald and Nancy Reagan.

George H.W. and Barbara Bush, both of whom died in 2018, would be featured on a 2019 Presidential dollar coin and a First Spouse medal and bullion coin, respectively, if H.R. 1173 passes. Introduced by Roger Williams, R-TX, H.R. 1173 and has a 24 percent chance of passing, according to Skopos Labs, an organization that projects legislative action.

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The provisions of the authorizing legislation for the Presidential dollar and First Spouse gold coin programs state, “No coin issued under this subsection may bear the  image of a living former or current President, or of any deceased former President during the 2-year period following the date of the death of that President.”

The requirement that a former president be deceased at least two years before any issuance of a Presidential dollar meant that the Reagan coin was the last in a series.

H.R. 1173 seeks to expand the program by overriding that provision of the original legislation. If enacted, Bush coins would be issued during 2019.

The original program closed after the Reagan coins were issued in 2016, along with coins for Richard and Patricia Nixon, and Gerald and Betty Ford. The Reagans were the last president and first spouse to die, in 2004 and in March 2016, respectively.

Under the original program, First Spouse medals and bullion coins were issued in conjunction with the partner dollar coin, so Barbara Bush, who passed six months before her husband, would also be featured on medals and gold coins. 

In office from 1989 to 1993, George H.W. Bush’s presidency saw the end of the Cold War and hot wars in the Middle East and Panama, as well as some economic turbulence at home. He signed the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Americans with Disabilities Act, among many other pieces of legislation. 

Remembered as a steady presence in the White House, Bush was criticized also,  for his inaction on the HIV/AIDS crisis and expanding the war on drugs, as well as a rather hawkish and interventionist foreign policy. 

Barbara Bush, for her part, fought to alleviate family illiteracy and revitalized the White House Preservation Fund. 

No substantive action has been taken on H.R. 1173, and it has been referred to committee.

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