By Hubert Walker for CoinWeek ….
On Tuesday, July 9, the U.S. Senate passed a bill that would authorize the United States Mint to produce commemorative silver $1 coins in honor of Christa McAuliffe, a high school social studies teacher from New Hampshire who was on board the Space Shuttle Challenger when it exploded not long after takeoff on January 28, 1986.
Introduced by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) (who was also partly responsible for an earlier commemorative proposal honoring McAuliffe and also a bill requiring Harriet Tubman to appear on all $20 bills printed after 2020), on January 28, 2019, Senate Bill 239 (S.239) would authorize the Mint to strike a maximum of 350,000 $1 coins made of 90% silver. The obverse design would feature a portrait of Christa McAuliffe and her name, and the reverse design would feature art that “depicts [her] legacy … as a teacher.” The usual legally mandated inscriptions and mottos would also be included on their respective sides.
The coins would be dated 2021, the 35th anniversary of the Challenger disaster.
All surcharges from the sale of Christa McAuliffe $1 commemorative silver coins would be paid to the FIRST Robotics program founded by inventor Dean Kamen whose mission is to “inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators … by engaging them in exciting mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills.” Interestingly, Kamen’s father, the illustrator and comic book artist Jack Kamen, produced designs for a Christa McAuliffe commemorative coin not long after the Challenger disaster itself.
The House of Representatives has yet to vote on the House version, H.R.500, which was introduced by Representative Fred Upton (R-MI6) on January 11. If passed, it would then be up to President Trump to sign the act into law. At the time of publication, there are 83 cosponsors in the Senate: 45 Republicans, 37 Democrats, and one independent.
The following widgets, courtesy of GovTrack.us, will update as the bills progress.
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This proposal had been kicking around for quite a while and appears worthy. Its an example to other sponsors of commemoratives that sometimes you really have to work the phones and wear out a couple of pairs of shoes to finally get your bill approved in the end. If at first you don’t succeed…try, try again.