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Cent Melt Spat Aborts Coin Hearing

Rep. Barney FrankBy David L. Ganz

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, D-Mass., abruptly canceled a hearing first slated for Oct. 31, and then Nov. 7, that had been designed to deal with the administration’s attempt to take control from Congress of coinage size, weight, composition and design, and another congressman’s attempt to hijack the cent melting prohibition for a constituent who wanted to melt pennies and send the metal to China.

Opposition mounted from Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., ranking minority member of the full committee, which has charge of all coin and currency matters. The full committee was once known as the Banking and Currency Committee and Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. Special subcommittees used to handle coinage matters and developed an expertise in the field; more recently, the full committee has handled coinage matters as an ancillary or subsidiary function to the main work of the unit.

On Oct. 31, the committee had scheduled a grueling day of hearings on several bills, two of which had numismatic consequences. One was canceled because of Republican opposition led by Bachus; the unit unanimously approved and sent to the House floor four other matters including one coin bill. Read Full Story

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