In the waning days of the congressional term, U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin this week asked colleagues to pass a new measure to have coins issued next year honoring President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara Bush.

The bill would direct the secretary of the Treasury to issue the coins during 2019 as part of a series of special coins from the U.S. Mint honoring all of America’s presidents and their spouses.

“Both President George H. W. Bush and first lady Barbara Bush hold a special place in the hearts of so many Mainers,” Poliquin said.

He said President Bush was “a World War II hero, a family man, and a true statesman, while first lady Bush was an inspiration to Americans across our nation and truly embodied the warmth and strength of our country.”

“Their lives should be recognized and celebrated by generations of Mainers to come and it’s my hope their inclusion in the Presidential $1 Coin Program will be a fitting tribute to their legacies.”

Both the Presidential and First Spouse series began in 2007, with four or five coins issued each year until coins had been minted for all the country’s deceased former leaders.

The last in each series was created in 2016 when coins were struck honoring Ronald and Nancy Reagan.

The death of Barbara Bush this past spring and President Bush on Nov. 30 marked the first deaths among the small group honored by each series. They spent summers in their family compound on the Maine shore and were widely considered to be honorary Mainers despite their Texas residency.

If Congress approves Poliquin’s bill in its final days, there would be a $1 coin issued to honor President Bush.

The First Spouse series operates differently, designating each issue as a $10 coin made from half an ounce of gold, worth substantially more than its face value. They are sold to collectors who pay a cost connected to the market value of gold.

Under the original legislation creating the presidential coin program, no coins bearing the image of a deceased president could be issued until at least two years had passed since his death.

But the program appears to have terminated in 2016 after every eligible president and first lady had been honored.

The law that created the programs, signed by President George W. Bush in 2005, said they could not be resumed “except by an Act of Congress.”

Poliquin’s proposal was sent to the Committee on Financial Services by the House. It is not clear whether there is enough time for it to be voted on before Congress adjourns this month.

The Mint has already struck a bronze commemorative medal honoring Bush and every other president. It is not considered a U.S. coin and can be purchased from the government for $6.95 for a small one or $39.95 for a large one.

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Some of the $10 gold coins issued by the U.S. Mint in a series honoring the nation’s former first ladies. U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin of Maine is seeking to have a new one struck to honor Barbara Bush, who spent summers on the Maine coast for most of her life. (Photo provided)

Presidential $1 coins issued by the U.S. Mint between 2007 and 2016. U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican from Maine’s 2nd District, is pushing to have a new one minted in 2019 to honor former President George H.W. Bush, who died recently. (Photo provided)

A commemorative medal honoring President George H.W. Bush struck by the U.S. Mint. It is not a coin, but it was minted at the Philadelphia mint in two sizes. (Photo provided)

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