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Senator plans meeting on "crummy' coinage

If your nickel's replica of Jefferson's Monticello or quarter's profile of George Washington doesn't inspire awe or patriotism, you have company in Sen. Phil Gramm.

"I think our coins and our currency are crummy," said Gramm, R-Texas.

A coin collector as a boy, Gramm is now chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, which has oversight of currency design.

He is bringing together coin professionals and hobbyists Wednesday to discuss whether the look of U.S. currency _ coins and bills _ should be changed. Although he has no plans for legislation, he hopes the forum might lead in that direction.

KING PREFERRED IN SURVEY: Coin collectors around the country would like to have the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Presidents Ronald Reagan and Harry Truman in their pockets.

Littleton Coin Co. of Littleton, N.H., conducted the survey, which was open-ended, with no nominees suggested by the company. The company posted the survey on its Web site and sent questionnaires to customers with coin orders; 1,940 collectors responded.

Also . . .

NUN TO DELIVER INVOCATION: Sister Catherine Moran of New Jersey will become the first Roman Catholic nun to serve as guest chaplain of the House today, when she delivers the opening prayer.

OFFICIAL QUITS: Nancy-Ann DeParle, who as administrator of the Health Care Financing Administration has overseen the Medicare and Medicaid programs for three years, has resigned to take a job at Harvard University.

DeParle will become a fellow at the Kennedy School of Government's health policy program.