Republicans in the Senate and House have proposed legislation that would prevent Congress from authorizing new commemorative coins that raise millions of dollars for the groups they are commemorating, a practice that a GOP senator was noted in recent press reports for using excessively.

The Commemorative Coins Reform Act was introduced by Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Rep. Justin AmashJustin AmashThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by JobsOhio - Trump's tax return bombshell Ron Paul hospitalized in Texas Internal Democratic poll shows tight race in contest to replace Amash MORE (R-Mich.), partly in reaction to news that Sen. Mark KirkMark Steven KirkLiberal veterans group urges Biden to name Duckworth VP On the Trail: Senate GOP hopefuls tie themselves to Trump Biden campaign releases video to explain 'what really happened in Ukraine' MORE (R-Ill.) successfully pushed through a few commemorative-coin bills that benefited a lobbying firm connected to his former girlfriend.

Under the current practice, commemorative coins can be authorized by Congress in legislation that usually allows a surcharge to be assessed on each coin. Money raised through that surcharge benefits the group that is being commemorated by the coin.

ADVERTISEMENT

In June, The Wall Street Journal reported that Kirk had authored several of these bills, many of which were for clients of Arcadian Partners, a lobbying group. The Journal story reported that Arcadian was paid $54,000 by the March of Dimes to lobby for a commemorative coin, and also that Kirk's former girlfriend had been employed at Arcadian.

Press reports also noted that Kirk successfully passed other coin bills that raised several million dollars for the groups being honored.

DeMint and Amash referred to that story, and said it shows that the current way of approving commemorative coins can make it too much like a congressional earmark that members can put forward to benefit certain groups.

"Congress has done great work on eliminating earmarks, but commemorative coins have become a way for politicians to continue steering federal benefits to favored projects," DeMint said.

"Congress found yet another way to circumvent the earmark ban with commemorative coins," Amash said. "Organizations shouldn't receive special treatment because of their D.C. connections. It's far beyond the proper role of the federal government to act as the sales agent for private groups."

The bill from DeMint and Amash would use the surcharge to pay for the coin program, and use any extra money raised to pay down the deficit. DeMint said commemorative coins should not be a "money-maker" for private entities.

The Senate bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnCOVID response shows a way forward on private gun sale checks Inspector general independence must be a bipartisan priority in 2020 Congress must protect federal watchdogs MORE (R-Okla.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSupreme Court fight should drive Democrats and help Biden Graham to meet with Trump's Supreme Court pick on Tuesday Democratic super PAC launches .5M ad campaign against Graham MORE (R-S.C.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold JohnsonSunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump previews SCOTUS nominee as 'totally brilliant' The Hill's 12:30 Report: Ginsburg lies in repose MORE (R-Wis.), Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSunday Shows: Trump's court pick dominates Senate Republican says lawmakers can't 'boil down' what a Court nominee would do in one case like Roe v. Wade Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers prepare for SCOTUS confirmation hearings before election MORE (R-Utah), John McCainJohn Sidney McCainCindy McCain joins board of Biden's presidential transition team Meet the first woman to run for president Jill Biden shuts down Jake Tapper's question about husband's 'occasional gaffe' MORE (R-Ariz.) and Jim RischJames (Jim) Elroy RischWhy the US should rely more on strategy, not sanctions Davis: The Hall of Shame for GOP senators who remain silent on Donald Trump Senators blast Turkey's move to convert Hagia Sophia back into a mosque MORE (R-Idaho). The House bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.).