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H.R. 5010DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AND U.S. TERRITORIES CIRCULATING QUARTER
DOLLAR PROGRAM ACT
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, 2000
U.S.House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Domestic and International Monetary Policy,
Committee on Banking and Financial Services,
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 2:10 p.m., in room 2128, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Spencer Bachus, [chairman of the subcommittee], presiding.
Present: Chairman Bachus; Representatives Ose, Castle, Lucas, Biggert, Green, Watt, Sherman, Inslee, Schakowsky, Moore, and Lee.
Also Present: Representative Cook.
Chairman BACHUS. We will call to order the Subcommittee on Domestic and Monetary Policy. Today, the subcommittee will have a hearing on the extension of the immensely popular State quarter program. We are going to hear from Representatives of the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Territories. Following that, we will have a markup. We will consider two bills. The first one will be the legislation which will extend the quarter program to include the new quarters, and that is H.R. 5010. The bill was introduced the day before we went out of session before the break. It has as cosponsors Chairman of the Full Committee, Chairman Leach, Ranking Member LaFalce, Mrs. Waters, and Mr. Castle.
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Mr. Castle, by the way, is the author of the original quarters program. And you may recall that when he first proposed that each State issue a quarter, it was not well received at first. The Treasury Department, there was no enthusiasm there. I guess that is putting it mildly. Now it is called the ''immensely popular and immensely successful'' quarters program. But I think Representative Castle has really never received the recognition he should have received for this program in that it will probably have at least a $5 billion net worth to the people of the United States. It is going to make a $5 billion profit.
How many of us as Representatives can come and offer a piece of legislation and make our country $5 billion? We can spend $5 billion, but how many of us can make $5 billion? And not only that, Representative Castle, but schoolchildren all over the United States are learningor will learn, about the 50 States. There is tremendous interest in this. We have added literally tens of millions of people who are now collecting coins and paying more attention to them. It has made our other coin programs more successful.
And the first legislation that we will consider today and hear from our witnesses is really, I think, the culmination of the quarters program, and that is including the District of Columbia and the United States Territories. We are going to hear from our Delegates and Representatives from the Senate in Puerto Rico about the importance of the program being extended to the District of Columbia and the Territories. Obviously, if our children are going to learn about the United States, it ought to include all of the United States and all of its Territories.
I have already reviewed some of your testimony and the resolution from Puerto Rico. I think the thing that, having served in the U.S. Army, I served with people from American Samoa, from Puerto Rico, from the different Territories. You fought for the country, you defended the country, you are a part of the country. And I think this is fitting that we take this action.
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Representative Norton, I want to commend you. You have been really the leader on seeing that the District of Columbia and the four Territories were included. And you have overcome initialsort of like Representative Castleskepticism or questioning, but I think that hopefully that has all been resolved, and that we today all recognize the wisdom of taking this action.
We, in the next months, are going to have a lot of contentious things here in Congress. There are going to be a lot of things we cannot agree on from a bipartisan nature, but surely this is one thing that we can all agree on, and that is that the quarters program be completed by including the District of Columbia and the Territories, and more importantly, the people that live there.
And so with that, I think what we will do, we will postpone a discussion on the second piece of legislation, which is about the Olympic coins, until after the hearing on the Territories in that we won't delay the panelists getting back to their important work.
At this time I want to introduce the panelists. Eleanor Holmes Nortonwell, do anyI am well reminded that other Members may wish to make opening statements and at this time I will recognize the father of the coins program, Representative Castle. And I will tell you this, that it was mentioned yesterday that we were having this hearing, and an elementary school teacher told me, ''Mike, that this is the first time that a lot of geography teachers have found a way to get the children they teach interested in the 50 States and things about the 50 States.'' So you are due a lot of recognition. And I really think that you have not received the recognition you deserve.
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Mr. CASTLE. Well, thank you Mr. Chairman. I appreciate that greatly. And as a good upstanding politician, I appreciate any credit that I get for anything which is successful. We certainly get blamed for anything that goes wrong. But I thank you for singling me out. Success has many fathers and mothers, and people like Phil Dio deserves a tremendous amount of credit, because he really pushed this program. And the coin collectors with whom we met who first suggested it, the staff people here who worked on it, all deserve a tremendous amount of credit as well. As well as all of you who are on the subcommittee and saw that this was a possibility, because it did not have a lot of support early on.
But we were pleased to be able to deal with it. I will tell you that I was even skeptical at the beginning. It is nice to say that you saw a good idea and recognized it right away, but when they talked about a 50-State program, it sounded like monopoly money to me and I was not sure about it. And they came back and said maybe we could do it in the order in which the States came into the Union. Realizing that Delaware was the first State in the Union, and all of a sudden, it became a better idea for me, and from that point on we sold it.
I obviously have taken a keen interest in the administration and the potential expansion of the 50-State quarter program. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton probably started talking to me about that the day I introduced it. As I recall, she was concerned about the expansion, particularly to DC., but to other Territories as well, and others here have mentioned that also. And I said ''Look let's just try to get this done and then we will try to take that up and see how this is going.'' And there was resistance, but proper resistance. I do not have a problem with it. I have tremendous respect for Secretary Rubin and Secretary Summers, and they were not sure about this at all. But with some pushing and prodding and so forth, we were able to move forward with the legislation.
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The misgivings are probably what one would expect. As a matter of fact, they told us that they certainly would not sign it the way it was. They wanted us to downgrade it into a study. We did the study. The study came up that this was actually a very good idea. And then something showed up in the study that you mentioned, Mr. Chairman. That is, it could actually make money. I did not know much about that, but they said ''Here is the deal. It costs 4 cents to make a quarter, and the Federal Reserve sells them for 25 cents to the bank. That is a 21-cent profit.'' It is really not profit. You just hold that until somebody turns them back in. But something unusual is happening here. Nobody is turning them back in.
In fact, the greatest problem with this in this whole program, and I have had meetings with the Federal Reserve and Treasury, is not being able to get enough of these quarters out. People want them to be packaged as State quarters and sent out, and they only send out so many and then they send out a lot of the regular quarters and repackage them, and that is creating a lot of consternation with the banks. But the bottom line is that this is almost pure profit, and the latest statements are that we may make $5 billion to $10 billion over the period of ten years on this as a Federal Government.
So I don't think extending it is exactly a bad idea. I think it is something economically that we should consider. But there are reasons to consider that I think are much more important than that. I think we all need to be educated about our States, and I think these little quarters are giving this, as the Chairman has said, the opportunity to many young people to understand something about Alabama or Delaware or another State, as it may be.
I think when we get to the District and our Territories it is even more important. I think we, as Members of Congress, perhaps need to have a better education with respect to exactly what the District and our Territories are doing and the geography of it, the heroes of it, whatever it may be that we can advertise, and those little quarters that we circulate. But it has been a tremendous experience from the educational aspect of it and just the sheer joy that a lot of people get out of collecting these quarters. It has worked extraordinarily well.
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And for that reason, I am totally behind this legislation. I think this is an excellent and sound idea to move forward to add the District of Columbia and our United States Territories to this legislation as soon as we possibly can. And I think my good friend from Alabama, the Chairman, is absolutely correct. This may be the one bipartisan piece of legislation that will certainly get done in this September-October period. Nothing else is guaranteed, but hopefully this will be. And I look forward to the hearing and the markup and looking forward to this legislation. And I yield back my time.
Chairman BACHUS. Thank you. Anyone else wish to make an opening statement? The gentleman from the Oklahoma Territory?
Mr. LUCAS. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me briefly add my accolades to the former Chairman of this committee Mr. Castle, and to observe, I think, that the States have acted in a very responsible fashion, and so has the Secretary's office and the Mint, and we have produced a series of very artistically appealing coins that do great honor and justice to the areas that they represent. And obviously, that tradition will be continued with this piece of legislation as we work our way through the rest of the series.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing.
Chairman BACHUS. Thank you.
And at this time it is my honor to introduce the panel before us representing the District of Columbia and the United States Territories.
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And as I had started to say, I think, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, represents 519 residents of the District of Columbia.
Ms. NORTON. 519,000.
Chairman BACHUS. 519,000?
Ms. NORTON. You said 519. I just wanted to make sure there was a ''thousand'' there.
Chairman BACHUS. I hope I said that, but I am from Alabama. But you have to wait a while sometimes to hear the whole word come out. But she represents 519,000 residents of the District of Columbia and is serving her fifth term in Congress. Ms. Norton is a Ranking Member of the House Appropriations DC Subcommittee and is a Member of the Government Reform Subcommittee on DC.
Recent surveys named Ms. Norton as one of the most powerful womenthat was not my wordpowerful women in America. Certainly one of the most influential women. She is nationally-known for civil rights and women's issues and is a leader, and she has received almost 70 honorary degrees.
Our next speaker is a good friend of mine, Robert Underwood from Guam. He has represented the Territory of Guam since his arrival on Capitol Hill in 1992. We served in the same class. Prior to that, he had a distinguished career in academia including service as the University of Guam's academic Vice President, the Dean of their College of Education, and Professor of History.
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Today, he is widely recognized as an authority on the Pacific Islands, the history and the culture of Guam, and U.S. policy affecting the Territories. Here in the House, he has assumed various leadership roles and positions including Chairman of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus and Ranking Member of the Armed Services Committee Merchant Marine Oversight Panel. I welcome you, Representative.
Our third panelist, Eniand it is Faleomavaega.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. ''Alabama.''
Chairman BACHUS. And I practiced that too, but I always call him Eni and I got away without saying that. But Faleomavaega? Is that close enough?
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Faleomavaega.
Chairman BACHUS. From American Samoa. The Congressman is in his sixth term as Representative for the Territory of American Samoa. Prior to that, he served as Lieutenant Governor and Deputy Attorney General of American Samoa. He serves on the House Committee on Resources, where he is Ranking Democrat on the Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans.
He has been a strong supporter of legislation to include the District of Columbia and the insular areas in the commemorative quarter program since the original legislation was introduced. And I mentioned Representative Norton, Eni, I should have mentioned that you have been quite active in that regard too. I apologize for that oversight.
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Our next panelist is Congresswoman Christian-Christensen from the U.S. Virgin Islands, and she is the first woman to represent an offshore territory. She is a Member of the House Committee on Small Business and is the Ranking Democratic Member of the Subcommittee on Rural Enterprises, Business Opportunities and Special Small Business Programs.
She also sits on various caucuses and task forces, including the Congressional Caucus for Women's Issues, the Travel and Tourism Caucus and the Democratic Health Care Task Force. She also chairs the Congressional Black Caucus Health Brain Trust.
We welcome you.
And our last witness is Senator McClintock-Hernandez. He has been a Member of the Puerto Rican Senate since January 1993, won election in 1992, reelection in 1996, and your biography says you are one of the most popular legislators in Puerto Rico. Past Chairman of the Council of State Governments, currently Chairman of the Government and Federal Affairs Committee of the Puerto Rican Senate. He also has been chair of the National Council of State Legislatures. Quite an honor.
The Senator was the author of a resolution passed in the Puerto Rican Senate officially requesting that the United States Congress and the President approve legislation to mint commemorative coins for the District and the Territories. And I think that did play a significant role in bringing this bill up. Any of us who have visited Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands as I have, I think take great pride in knowing that we are visiting fellow Americans, and it is a beautiful, beautiful territory. And Puerto Rico and the Virgin IslandsI look forward to someday going to American Samoa and Guam. Although when I was in the Army, Guam was not one of the places I really wanted to pass through.
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I had said in my opening remarks, and I really think anyone who served in the military, though, is quite impressed with the contribution that the Territories have given to the armed services as far as very competent, very capable members of our armed services. And that is something that, if I had not served in the military, I would not have known and was quite impressed to find out.
We also want to introduce the resolution from the Puerto Rican Senate. At this time I will put that in the record if there is no objection. Thank you.
With that, Representative Norton
STATEMENT OF HON. ELEANOR HOLMES NORTON, A DELEGATE IN CONGRESS FROM THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Ms. NORTON. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I will be very brief, for you have lingered long over this bill. I begin with my own thanks. I know you will hear it from my colleagues as well, for the time and effort of your staff and of you in making sure that the District and the insular areas were included in this wonderful bill. I join you in the credit you are paying to Representative Castle, the Chair of this committee, when this matter first arose. I knew all along, Representative Castle, that this would be a big number in the States. So big that we wanted to make sure we were included. You perhaps did not realize how big.
Now when it was clear that it meant everything to us, I am not sure I can say, as I said then, that it means more to us than it could possibly mean to the States, because this bill has meant so much to the States. I must say, Representative Castle, in light of the fact that this bill was introduced when our deficit was high, I have not yet understood what the objection was to adding money to the Treasury. Perhaps it was that this was a precedent that would be set, but at some point you will have to make me understand that. But in any case, I think everybody understands why it was such a good idea now.
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There has been some delay, but when, in fact, this matter first arose, we were concerned. I am pleased to say that Representative Castle and we decided to simply work it out. Once he said ''We will work it out, Eleanor,'' I knew that that is all I needed to hear. And so the bill proceeded. Representative Castle as Chair immediately went on the bill. There has been no question in my mind that this bill would, in fact, bring us to this day. And we appreciate the work it has taken, because we recognize that there are always glitches in even a bill that may seem very simple. And there were a few glitches here, not of your making. And again, particularly at this point, Chairman Bachus, your staff kept on the case until in fact all was said and all was done.
I make only a brief point that the District and the Territories are, of course, aware that there are differences between ourselves and the States, but we certainly do not believe, as you have never believed, the qualification to participate in a coin commemoration program is one of them. We are absolutely equal with other Americans and extremely proud to be Americans. By taking immediate steps, as Representative Castle did, to make sure that we were included, there was no taint that we are regarded as colonies or less than full Americans. All along it has been clear that we were one and we were all on the same page.
I am so proud of the bill that I am recommending that there be a competitionperhaps others have done the samein my area, open to residents of any age so as to bring others into it, perhaps asking them to find out more about the District and the States as they participate. We particularly relish signs and symbols of unity with the American politic. That despite the differences between us and the States, we are, in fact, when all is said and done, like every other American.
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I look here at this quarter, and it is, to me, a source of great pride, that on one side there will be George Washington, the Father of our Country, and on the other side there is going to be something that says the District of Columbia. For folks who are third in per capita Federal income taxes paid, do not have full representation yet in the House or the Senate, it means a lot to be able to carry this coin around.
We ask now of the committee only for the most rapid passage in the subcommittee and in the full committee, going forthwith to the floor so that we can get this bill passed through both Houses before the session ends. Because you have scheduled a markup even as we testify, we already see that that is your intention. Again, you have my profound gratitude.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
STATEMENT OF HON. ROBERT A. UNDERWOOD, A DELEGATE IN CONGRESS FROM THE TERRITORY OF GUAM
Mr. UNDERWOOD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I too would like to thank you and Representative Castle and also acknowledge the leadership of our colleague, Representative Holmes Norton, who have supported H.R. 5010, the District of Columbia and United States Territories Circulating Quarter Dollar Program Act. Although separate from the program initiated in 1997 by the 50 States Commemorative Coin Act, H.R. 5010 will no doubt create the same interest and enjoy, hopefully, the same success as its predecessor.
It was hoped that the commemorative coin program would lead the American public to become more aware of the rich history of U.S. coinage, which dates all the way back to the 1790's; that the various designs will generate a collective pride amongst Americans, not only their home States, but also the United States in general; and that the 50 States commemorative coin program would reflect similar values which exist in each of our 50 States, while also celebrating our Nation's diversity.
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This objective has only been partially met. In addition to serious collectors, U.S. Mint surveys indicate that about 15 million kids are collecting the commemorative coins and at the same time learning about their country's history and heritage. Commemorative quarters have outsold Pokemon cards 100 times over.
Unfortunately, by excluding the District of Columbia and the Territories in the 1997 coin program, we have shortchanged the American public and missed out on an opportunity to present a broader reflection of the history and the diversity of our great Nation. By this same token, many residents of the District, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas have sometimes considered this noninclusion in the commemorative quarter program as the latest manifestation of the lack of acknowledgment of our membership and contributions to the full breadth of American society.
I represent the island of Guam. In 1994, we commemorated the 50th anniversary of Guam's liberation after three years of occupation by the Japanese during World War II. We hold the distinction of being the only civilian American community to suffer occupation during that War. In 1998, we marked the 100-year anniversary of our relationship with the United States which resulted from the Spanish-American War. Last August, we commemorated the 50-year anniversary of the enactment of the Organic Act of Guam, which granted civil government and U.S. citizenship to the people of Guam.
Together with the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, we are the western-most Territories of the United States. Guam is where America's day begins, being just on the other side of the International Date Line. These are some points that we on Guam like to share with our fellow Americans and the American public, and these are probably some of the points that will be conveyed to the American public if the commemorative quarter program is extended to the Territories and the District, which I am sure it will be.
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H.R. 5010 will enable the District and the territories to share in the pride brought about by commemorative quarters to the 50 States. It would serve the American public to be acquainted with the diversity and culture that defines the Territories and the District, and more importantly, having commemorative quarters issued in honor of the District and the Territories will go a long way toward recognizing areas of this Nation that many citizens of the 50 States sometimes overlook. Passage of this legislation will ensure that commemorative coin program will finally cover all Americans and all areas where the U.S. flag flies. Seeing a latte stone or a tapa cloth on the other side of a coin with George Washington's portrait will be a great testimony to this country's diversity and inclusion of diverse peoples. Who knows, a full examination of representative democracy for all these areas under the American flag could follow this effort to include the Territories and the District.
This legislation is significant, important, and necessary. It is worth much, much more than two-bits.
Again, I thank the Chairman for introducing the bill. I urge my colleagues to support this bill and work toward its passage and enactment. And I want to take also the time to acknowledge all the work of Representative Castle on this. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF HON. ENI F.H. FALEOMAVAEGA, A DELEGATE IN CONGRESS FROM THE TERRITORY OF AMERICAN SAMOA
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Mr. Chairman, thank you. Certainly it is an honor for myself, and I am sure, with my colleagues here before this distinguished subcommittee, to testify in support of this proposed legislation. I would be remiss if I certainly did not express my commendation and compliment to you, Mr. Chairman, as the chief author of the legislation. I also want to personally thank Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton for her leadership and fantastic efforts that she has made over the years in trying to bring this legislation now before us. And I would also be remiss if I did not express my personal appreciation to former Governor, now Congressman Castle, from the great State of Delaware, for his leadership and for his sensitivity, as my good friend from Guam has said, that this legislation really does bring about the principle of inclusion, if I may.
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The fact that some 4.7 million Americans live in the District of Columbia and in the insular areas, and we are very grateful. This is one of the most rare occasions, Mr. Chairman, that all of us are banded together here testifying on this legislation, which I hope that we will continue to do this even more.
As my good friend, Congressman Underwood, has stated earlier, Guam, without question, has a very, very dynamic position, not only in terms of our national security, but I think it also helps to give an indication of appreciation of what the people of Guam had to endure and the sacrifices that they made for our great Nation.
And you had indicated earlier, Mr. Chairman, that you had served in the Army. I am also an Army veteran, as I served in Vietnam, and I am happy to hear that you were able to serve with some of my fellow Samoans, I am sure that those of us, the District of Columbia and the insular areas, probably on a per capita basis, we can match any State in terms of our sons and daughters who serve in all different branches of the armed forces.
One thing in particular that I want to share with you, Mr. Chairman, and the subcommittee, is that quite unique to American Samoa. We probably export more sumo wrestlers and National Football League players than any other State and Territory in our Nation. Be that as it may, I do want to say that this legislationit won't fit on the quarter, OKMr. Chairman, this legislation amends current law by adding a twelveth year to the program. During this period the District of Columbia and the five insular areas would also be recognized by the minting of 25 cent coins. Commemorative designs on one side of the coins would be selected by the Secretary of the Treasury in consultation with the chief executive officer of these areas.
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This legislation is very timely, Mr. Chairman. This year commemorates the 100th anniversary of our raising of the American flag in American Samoa. It certainly would be a special honor for us to see this legislation pass this year as part of the commemorative activities and the celebrations that we have in our proud history and relationship with the United States. American Samoa has a very unique political history with the United States. In 1900 and 1904, our traditional leaders, through treaty relationship with the United States, ceded the islands, whereby they were utilized as a naval coaling station in the early 1900's, and also this Territory was a major staging area for 30,000 Marines and soldiers during World War II. American Samoa also had the honor of being the host of all our astronauts when we were on the program of developing our systems and eventually sending men to the moon.
Mr. Chairman, American Samoans are very proud to be in association with our great Nation. As I said earlier, this legislation to me is an earmark for inclusion. I believe that these 4.7 million proud Americans that live in these insular areas and the District of Columbia deserve no less, and we really appreciate, again, your leadership as well as the leadership of the subcommittee on a bipartisan basis in seeing that this legislation is very, very supported. I sincerely hope that this bipartisan legislation does not get caught in a web where unrelated things are being tagged on and then the next thing we know the legislation dies because someone full of wisdom decided to tack on some unrelated issues that may eventually cause the death of this bill. And I sincerely hope that will not happen.
And to that, Mr. Chairman, again, thank you for allowing us to come and testify before the subcommittee and I urge my colleagues to support this bill. Thank you.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSTATEMENT OF HON. DONNA M. CHRISTIAN-CHRISTENSEN, A DELEGATE IN CONGRESS FROM THE TERRITORY OF THE VIRGIN ISLANDS
Mrs. CHRISTIAN-CHRISTENSEN. Thank you. And good afternoon, Chairman Bachus, other Members of the subcommittee. It is a pleasure and honor for me to be here this afternoon as well to join my colleagues from the District of Columbia, Guam, American Samoa and Puerto Rico in support of the DC. and U.S. Territories Circulating Quarter Dollar Program Act. I also want to join you in thanking and commending Representative Norton, as well as Representative Faleomavaega, for their leadership as well as yours and former Chairman Castle's, for bringing this bill forward.
The journey we are about to embark on with this insuring one, which the five of us here today have waited for since the original commemorative coin program bill first became law more than two years ago. At that time, the 50 State Commemorative Coin Program Act came to the floor of the House in 1997. When it came, DC. and the Territories were excluded primarily because the subcommittee at the time wanted to have the Department of the Treasury's determination that there wouldn't be a problem including the District of Columbia and the insular areas in this program.
So today, after nearly two years, Mr. Chairman, the U.S. citizens of the District of Columbia and the Territories are finally about to get the opportunity to have our Nation commemorate and celebrate with us some significant event or fact about our respective homes. This is a great day for all of us as we have come together with this bill to celebrate finally all of America.
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While my district, the U.S. Virgin Islands, also known as America's paradise, has many ecological historical and cultural treasures which are worthy of commemoration, we also boast of having been the place where the first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton, grew up and honed the skill which has served this young country so well. For the benefit of those who might not know, the Virgin Islands have been a member of the American family since 1917 when Denmark sold the islands of the former Danish West Indies to the United States. We also boast as the only site where members of Christopher Columbus's party are known to have set foot on what is today U.S. soil.
Today, the Virgin Islands is inhabited by people of a variety of races and cultural heritage. Our residents are of many backgrounds including African, we have many, many people who moved from our neighboring islands of Puerto Rico, especially on my own island of St. Croix, from the American mainland, many countries from Europe, and English is our primary spoken language throughout the Territory.
People of the Virgin Islands see it only as fitting, Mr. Chairman and Members of the subcommittee, that we, along with the residents and citizen of Guam, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia, should have the opportunity to educate finally our fellow Americans with our unique qualities as well as promote our pride at being Americans. And we thank you, Mr. Chairman, and former Chairman Castle, for the opportunity to do that. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF HON. KENNETH McCLINTOCK-HERNANDEZ, A SENATOR IN THE LEGISLATURE OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF PUERTO RICO
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Mr. MCCLINTOCK-HERNANDEZ. Thank you. Good afternoon. I would like to begin my remarks by thanking the Chairman and his staff, especially Joe Pender, for taking an interest in a bill that has little effect in the home districts of most Members of this subcommittee, but which will benefit the nearly 5 million American citizens who live in our Nation's Capital and Territories. And we would also like to thank Governor Castle, Mrs. Norton, Mr. Underwood, Mr. Faleomavaega and Mrs. Christian-Christensen for their leadership in this matter.
I thank my own delegate, Carlos Romero-Barcelo, who submitted a statement for the record, for asking me to join this panel today on his behalf in view of my interest in this bill, which is a focus of Senate Concurrent Resolution 66, which I authored.
H.R. 5010 will extend the recognition made to the States of the Union by the 50 State Commemorative Coin Act to other U.S. jurisdictions. Furthermore, this initiative will help implement a policy of inclusion capable of symbolizing an accurate picture of the political reality of our Nation and will also help to rectify the oblivion in which some jurisdictions have traditionally been cast.
Issuing commemorative quarters of the District of Columbia, Guam, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, the Northern Marianas and Puerto Rico, will help recognize the contribution of the United States citizens who reside in these jurisdictions, citizens who quite often, for cultural or political reasons, feel left out of the national mainstream.
An example of this feeling is the fact that apparently the Federal Reserve does not even ship the new dollar coin to its cash depot in San Juan. So it does not circulate in Puerto Rico, not because it is being hoarded, but because it has never arrived. As a numismaticist myself, this bill will add value to the circulating quarter dollar coin program commemorating some of the United States territorial history.
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The relationship developed by the presence of the United States on the islands of Puerto Rico for over 100 years has generated close cultural economic and political ties. Puerto Ricans are United States citizens and we have participated in all military conflicts since 1917. Going back a few more centuries, the first non-native to set foot in Florida was Puerto Rico's first Governor, Juan Ponce de Leon. So perhaps we could even gloat that a Puerto Rican discovered the mainland U.S.
Likewise, the aforementioned islands, as well as the District of Columbia, have a rich cultural heritage that deserves to be revealed to the rest of our fellow citizens. The issuing of a quarter dollar coin with a design honoring the history and traditions of each of these jurisdictions would achieve the purpose of divulging its culture and would propitiate a better understanding that will reinforce the ties that unite all the citizens and the nationals of the United States in these different regions, which are all united under the same monetary system.
It might even, who knows, generate a huge tourism boom to the District of Columbia and the islands in the year 2010.
Our legislature, through its approval of Concurrent Resolution 66, fully supports the enactment of H.R. 5010, is available to assist you, as well as our delegate in Congress, the Honorable Carlos Romero-Barcelo, in this endeavor. Thank you very much.
Chairman BACHUS. You probably noticed that Representative Faleomavaega
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Faleomavaega.
Chairman BACHUS. Faleomavaegathat he mentioned the NFL. Did you want to mention major league baseball?
Mr. MCCLINTOCK-HERNANDEZ. I am not a braggart myself.
Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. I have got two Samoan baseball players right now.
Chairman BACHUS. All right. We appreciate the testimony from the panelists and we will, without objection, submit your entire statements in the record. I appreciate your statements. These are issues that unite us. And give us an opportunity to come together. So we very much welcome this opportunity. We appreciate your testimony.
At this time, the hearing is dismissed. And we will go into the markup. You are certainly invited to stay for the markup, which we hope will be very short and very brief and very successful.
[Whereupon the hearing was adjourned.]