It looks like Americans will have new coins jingling in their pockets as the new century begins.
The Senate has approved legislation for a gold-colored dollar coin and for quarters honoring the 50 states. A key subcommittee chairman said he expected House approval Wednesday or Thursday.
“This will be the largest change in coinage we’ve seen in a long time,” said Rep. Michael Castle, R-Del., chairman of the House Banking monetary subcommittee.
The Senate, in passing the legislation by voice vote Sunday avoided a controversy over who or what should replace suffragist Susan B. Anthony on the face of the dollar coin.
The legislation leaves the design up to the secretary of the treasury. A Treasury Department spokeswoman said the department did not intend to speculate on a design before the legislation is passed.
The bill specifies only that the coin be gold-colored and have a different edge than the quarter. The public rejected the Susan B. Anthony coins, minted from 1979 to 1981, because they looked and felt too much like a quarter.
But a replacement is needed because use of the dollar coins by U.S. Postal Service machines and big-city transit companies has reduced the government’s stockpile to about a 30-month supply. That’s how long the U.S. Mint needs to design and test a new coin.
The legislation permits paper dollars to continue circulating. Previous efforts to replace the Anthony coin and withdraw dollar notes have died under intense lobbying from companies that supply the paper and ink for notes and the unions whose members print them.
The quarters legislation would replace the American eagle on the tails side of the coins with designs celebrating each of the 50 states. George Washington would remain on the face.
Starting in 1999, five new designs would be issued a year in the order that the states ratified the Constitution and then in the order they were admitted to the union.