CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
The House is scheduled to begin consideration of H.R. 1209, the Medal of Honor Commemorative Coin Act, on Wednesday, May 13, 2009, under a suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. H.R. 1209 was introduced on February 26, 2009, by Rep. Christopher Carney (D-PA) and referred to the Committee of Financial Services, which took no official action.
H.R. 1209 would require the Secretary of Treasury to design and produce a commemorative coin in recognition of the founding of the Medal of Honor in 1861. Treasury would be required to produce no more than 100,000 $5 gold coins and no more than 500,000 $1 silver coins. The bill would require that the coins have three distinct designs to honor the Army, Navy, and Air Force, and contain motifs that specifically honor Medal of Honor recipients. Coins minted under this legislation could only be produced between January 1, 2011, and December 31, 2011.
All coins minted under the bill would be available for sale to the public with a $35 surcharge added to the face value of the gold coin and a $10 surcharge for the silver coin. All surcharges from the sale of coins would be paid by the Secretary to the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation to help finance the educational, scholarship and outreach programs of the Foundation.
The Congressional Medal of Honor was established on December 21, 1861, when Senate bill No. 82 was passed, authorizing the production of 200 Medals of Honor. The legislation, sponsored by Iowa Senator James Grimes, was designed to "promote the efficiency of the Navy" by distributing the medals to valorous service members who distinguished themselves during the Civil War. Two months later, similar legislation was passed to authorize the President to distribute a similar medal to members of the Army. On July 12, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed the legislation and the Medal of Honor was officially established. In 1947, an additional Medal of Honor was established for the Air Force.
According to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, there have been 3,447 recipients of the Medal of Honor, of which, 1,523 were given to soldiers for actions performed during the Civil War. There are currently 97 living recipients of the Medal of Honor.
H.R. 1209 would give all the surcharges from the sale of the Commemorative coins to the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation. According to its website, the Foundation's mission is to "Raise funds for initiatives that promote what the Medal of Honor represents, operation of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society headquarters, and the public service activities of the Society's exclusive membership. Promote American values and the qualities of courage, sacrifice, and patriotism through increased awareness, education, behavior, and example." Currently, the Foundation operates scholarship programs, educational outreach, Medal of Honor recipient gravesite programs, and oversees the Medal of Honor history exhibits at the Smithsonian and the Capitol Visitor Center.
A CBO score for H.R. 1209 was not yet available at press time.