This bill — the Currency Evolution Now To Save (CENTS) Act — would give the Treasury Department, specifically the U.S. Mint, the authority to change the composition of the nickel, dime, quarter, and half dollar coins if these changes save taxpayer dollars and do not impact the coins’ size or functionality. Changes would happen under the conditions that 1) they reduce the overall cost of minting the coin and 2) don’t affect coins’ diameter, weight and functionality.
What is Senate Bill S. 1794?
Cost of Senate Bill S. 1794
In-Depth: Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) introduced this legislation to change coins’ composition to use cheaper metals:
“Iowa taxpayers are getting nickeled-and-dimed by the increasing costs of certain metals for producing coins. Right now, it costs hardworking taxpayers seven cents to make one nickel. Congress can fix this, and they need to. That’s why I’ve put forward this commonsense bill that will allow the Mint the flexibility to use cheaper materials to produce certain coins, without changing the size or functionality of them.”
In its Fiscal Year 2019 budget justification, the U.S. Mint requested that Congress give it the authority to change the composition of coins in order to save taxpayer money. Additionally, in a March 2019 watchdog report, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommended that Congress consider giving the Mint that authority.
Opponents of this bill argue that even if taxpayers are losing some small amount on coin production, it’s more than canceled out by paper bill production: each $1 bill costs only 5.5 cents.
It currently costs 2.06 cents to make a penny and 7.53 cents to make a nickel. Based on estimates from the U.S. Mint’s annual report, taxpayers lost about $85.4 million from penny production and $33.5 million from nickel production in 2018.
This legislation doesn’t have any cosponsors.
- Sponsoring Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) Press Release
- GovTrack Insider
- U.S. Mint FY 2019 Budget Justification (Context)
- GAO Report (Context)
Summary by Lorelei Yang(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / swisshippo)
A bill to amend title 31, United States Code, to permit the Secretary of the Treasury to determine the metal composition of certain coins, and for other purposes.
- Not enactedThe President has not signed this bill
- The house has not voted
- The senate has not voted
Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban AffairsIntroducedJune 12th, 2019
- senate Committees