Congressman Steve Stivers (R -- OH) this week introduced the Cents and Sensibility Act to lower the cost of producing pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters and to ensure they are minted with steel instead of minerals imported from outside the United States. Representatives Tim Ryan (D -- OH) and Pat Tiberi (R -- OH) signed on as original co-sponsors of the bipartisan legislation.
"This legislation is a common-sense solution to decrease the cost of minting our coins," Stivers said. "Not only will it cost less, but steel is an American resource that we have here at home and can be manufactured right here in our backyard."
Since 2006, due to the rising cost of materials and labor, the manufacturing of some denominations has become unprofitable. Of the coins currently in circulation today, the cost of producing pennies and nickels is greater than the face value of the coins themselves.
Currently, 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. The Stivers legislation would require that all four coins be made of American steel moving forward, with the penny being dipped in copper. The appearance of the coins would not change, just the materials to make the coins, making it possible for American steel to produce U.S. coins.
Both pennies and nickels cost more to mint than the face value of the coins. For the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010, it cost 1.79 cents to create a penny and the cost to create a nickel was 9.22 cents. The dime and quarter both cost less to produce than the face value of the coins, with the dime costing 5.65 cents to produce and the quarter costing 11.14 cents.
According to the House Financial Services Committee, by simply changing the composition of the coins to steel, the United States will save up to $433 million over 10 years for American taxpayers.
This legislation is endorsed by the American Iron and Steel Institute.