On April 6, U.S. Congressman Steve Stivers reintroduced the Cents and Sensibility Act (H.R. 2067), which aims to “save the American taxpayers money by immediately altering the metallic composition of the one-cent, five-cent, dime, and quarter-dollar coins, and for other purposes.”
Co-sponsored by fellow Ohio representatives Joyce Beatty and Pat Tiberi, the bill would not apply to the U.S. Mint’s numismatic coins but would instead affect all U.S. circulation coins beginning 90 days after its enactment.
“This legislation is a common-sense solution to lower the cost of minting our coins,” said Stivers, a Republican representative and noted supporter of all-steel coinage. “Not only does this save taxpayer dollars in the production of the coins, it will also allow American steel to be used in production that can be manufactured in many of our communities.”
Stivers said since 2006, the manufacturing of some U.S. denominations has “become unprofitable” because of the rising cost of materials and labour. Of the U.S. coins currently in circulation today, the cost of producing both the one- and five-cent coins is greater than the actual face value of the coins.
The U.S. Mint estimates it costs about 1.5 cents to make a penny and 6.3 cents to produce a nickel. The dime and quarter both cost less to produce than the face value of the coins.
Currently, U.S. pennies are made of copper and zinc while nickels, dimes and quarters are made of copper and nickel. A majority of the copper, zinc and nickel used to make these coins is imported from Canada.
Stivers legislation would require U.S. pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters to be made of American steel in the future, with the penny dipped in copper. The appearance of the coins would not change.
He said a study by Navigant Consulting reported the U.S. government could save about $2 billion over 10 years in metal costs alone by changing the composition of the nickel, dime, and quarter to steel; however, the study didn’t examine the effect of similar changes to the penny.
This legislation is endorsed by the American Iron and Steel Institute. It has since been referred to the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services.