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Public Statements

Our Nation's Coinage

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr Dodd. Mr. President, I would like to briefly describe two pieces of legislation which were before the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and recently secured full approval of the Senate.

The first piece of legislation is H.R. 6162, the Coin Modernization, Oversight, and Continuity Act of 2010. This bill principally addresses the issue of how to approach the costs of metals used to make our Nation's circulating coinage. In recent years, market prices for various metals--including those used for our Nation's coinage, such as nickel, copper, and zinc--have risen to such a point that it costs the U.S. Mint more than a penny to make a penny, and more than a nickel to make a nickel. By giving the Treasury Secretary the authority to conduct research and development on metallic materials for all circulating coinage, as appropriate, and mandating a biennial report on the status of current coin production costs and an analysis of alternative content, this legislation will equip the U.S. Mint with the tools necessary to present detailed legislative recommendations to Congress. Should the Congress decide to act on any such prospective recommendations for lower cost metallic materials and combinations, there could be considerable savings to the taxpayer over time. In addition, this bill gives the Secretary flexibility in determining the quality and quantity of gold and silver bullion coins produced. The Mint has recently taken drastic but prudent measures to meet the extraordinary demand for silver and gold bullion coins and has suspended production of its proof and uncirculated versions, which are of great intrinsic value to collectors and coin enthusiasts. Going forward, the Mint will be able to simultaneously offer these higher-quality versions directly to the public while continuing to satisfy demand for bullion coins.

The second piece of legislation is H.R. 6166, the American Eagle Palladium Bullion Coin Act of 2010, which authorizes the Secretary to mint and issue a $25 palladium bullion coin, subject to the submission of a report to Congress demonstrating sufficient public demand for such coins and no resultant net cost to taxpayers. Palladium is a sought-after investment-grade precious metal whose market price is often reliably above silver and below that of gold and platinum. Other governments have issued palladium bullion coins before as investment vehicles and collector's items, and this bill lays the groundwork for the U.S. Mint to carry out a unique palladium coin program that would benefit investors and numismatists, and cost nothing to the taxpayer.

The Coin Modernization, Oversight, and Continuity Act of 2010 and the American Eagle Palladium Bullion Coin Act of 2010 have both passed the House, and will now await the signature of the President. I am pleased that these two bills were approved by this body, as they reflect sound and measured policy towards improving the state of our Nation's coinage, and thank my colleagues for their help in getting these measures adopted.


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