US Coins

Senate passes 2020 Suffrage $1 coin bill

A second commemorative coin program for 2020 took one more step toward approval when S. 1235, the “Women’s Suffrage Centennial Coin Act,” passed the Senate on June 4. 

Introduced April 30, the bill had virtually no changes made by the Senate and will be considered by the House of Representatives. The Senate dealt with the bill with unusual haste, suggesting that its passage is a legislative priority. 

1904 Louisiana Purchase Expo medalInside Coin World: 1904 Louisiana Purchase Expo bronze medal: Columns exclusive to the June 24 issue focus on a $25 coin shop purchase and an affordable 20th century wartime overdate variety.

S. 1235 was introduced by Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and cosponsored by all 25 women in the Senate, across party lines. An identical bill, H.R. 2423, was introduced in the House of Representatives, with just two co-sponsors.

The bills would, if enacted, require the design and production of a 2020 commemorative silver dollar honoring the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the vote. The dollar would have to feature some of the prominent women who worked for decades to make female suffrage a reality in the United States.

S. 1235 passed the Senate less than five weeks after its introduction, unusually quickly given that most bills take several more weeks or even months to even be reviewed by one legislative chamber or the other. 

For the legislation to become law in time for the Mint to have adequate opportunity to solicit, review, and implement designs for the dollar coin, S. 1235 would need to progress through Congress similarly quickly.

Such legislation is typically introduced further in advance of the target year for the program. 

For example, the legislation creating the 2006 silver dollar celebrating the bicentennial of Benjamin Franklin’s birth was introduced in September of 2003. It didn’t pass the House until November of 2004 and became law in late December of the same year, more than a year before the actual bicentennial of Franklin’s birth. Similarly, a bill creating the silver dollar struck in 2009 that commemorated the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birth was introduced in 2005 and signed into law in September of 2006.

With less than six months before the start of 2020, S. 1235 is a little late to the party, but the quick passage through the Senate might help make up for that. It now awaits House action.

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