Production of circulating Presidential $1 Coins has been immediately suspended at the United States Mint. The suspension comes at the direction of Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner as part of a broad Campaign to Cut Government Waste established by President Barack Obama earlier this year.
Presidential $1 Coins will continue to be produced by the United States Mint for coin collectors much like the Kennedy half dollars have been in recent years. New Presidential dollars, however, will no longer be available through the Federal Reserve Bank System as they had been in the past.
Reports and Congressional interest in the matter appearing earlier in the year may have led to the halt in circulating Presidential $1 Coins. The United States Mint has produced more than 2.37 billion since their introduction. The Treasury Department said Tuesday that the Federal Reserve Bank has more than $1.4 billion worth of the coins sitting in its vaults, or "enough to meet current levels of circulating demand for more than a decade."
This surplus was created, at least partially, because of Congressional requirements. In the authorizing Act for the coins (Public Law 109-145), Congress mandates that the:
"Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System and the Secretary shall take steps to ensure that an adequate supply of $1 coins is available for commerce and collectors at such places and in such quantities as are appropriate…"
To that end, the Federal Reserve System ordered quantities of new Presidential $1 Coins to be available upon release at local banking institutions. However, following their debut, demand waned quickly leading many of those institutions to send back un-wanted strikes to be placed in Federal Reserve vaults. That surplus led some in Congress to even consider ordering a halt to the Presidential $1 Coin Program altogether.
However, further Congressional intervention was apparently not required as the Secretary of the Treasury already has the power to "mint and issue coins … in amounts the Secretary decides are necessary to meet the needs of the United States," states the Treasury. With that power in hand, the Secretary and the Vice President of the United States Joseph Biden announced the production halt at a cabinet meeting Tuesday.
"At the Treasury Department, we’re continuing to work hard in support of President Obama and Vice President Biden’s efforts to cut waste and streamline government," commented Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner about the announcement to halt circulating Presidential $1 Coin production.
"Putting a stop to the minting of surplus $1 coins represents a significant opportunity to reduce costs and improve efficiency. In these tough times, Americans are making every dollar count, and they deserve the same from their government. We simply shouldn’t be wasting taxpayer money on money that taxpayers aren’t using."
The suspension should also significantly impact Native American $1 Coin mintages, based on available information. Current law requires that 20 percent of all $1 coins produced each year must feature the latest Native American design.
The Presidential $1 Coin Program debuted in 2007 and features obverse portraits of former Presidents of the United States. Coins in the program are released at a rate of four per year in the order in which the individuals served. The next strike to be issued in the program is scheduled to be the Chester A. Arthur $1 Coin in early 2012.
For past, current and future releases, view this site’s Presidential dollars information section.