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President Trump signs bill approving commemorative coin to benefit client FIRST

October 11, 2019

On Wednesday, October 9, President Trump signed the Christa McAuliffe Commemorative Coin Act into law. This law requires the U.S. Mint to mint in 2021 a $1 coin honoring the life and legacy of Christa McAuliffe, the teacher and astronaut who perished in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986. The coin’s issuance will coincide with the 35th anniversary of the shuttle explosion.

This is a massive win for firm client FIRST, one of the nation’s leading STEM engagement programs for K-12 students. The law designates that a portion of the surcharge from sale of the coin will go to FIRST to help promote its mission of inspiring the next generation of students to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics studies. Thompson Coburn’s Lobbying & Policy group has lobbied on behalf of FIRST since 2013 and was honored in 2015 by the organization for its work in Washington.

To reduce the number of coins minted, commemorative coin bills are required to have two-thirds of the members of both the House and the Senate sponsor the bill, a nearly herculean effort in a deeply divided Congress. Previous attempts have failed in the last two Congresses, but a concerted effort by Ben Grove and Jim Burger led to building a strong coalition of support on Capitol Hill that got the bill over the finish line.

Before the coin is minted, the U.S. Mint will hold a competition for the design of the coin. A strong contender will be the design made by FIRST Founder Dean Kamen’s father.