A bill to terminate the U.S. Mint Presidential $1 Coin Program was introduced in the Senate for a third time on Wednesday, Jan. 7. The last two versions, brought forward in the prior 112th and 113th sessions of Congress, died from inaction.
Like them, this latest piece of legislation (S.95) was introduced by Senator David Vitter of Louisiana. If passed in the Senate, House and signed by the President, the United States Mint would stop striking coins bearing portraits of former presidents.
"Even though many in Congress, including myself, hoped that dollar coins would eventually save taxpayers money, it’s turned out to be one of those unnecessary and, quite frankly, wasteful programs that we should eliminate," Vitter said in 2011 when he introduced the first bill (S.1385).
Americans essentially killed the main intent of the Presidential $1 Coin Act of 2005 by sticking to paper money and refusing to use heavier $1 coins that last longer. Hundreds of millions of the coins are now stacked up in vaults.
In December 2011, then Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner directed the U.S. Mint to stop producing all $1 coins for circulation.
"This is a big victory in the fight against mindless government waste, because these coins are a textbook case of wasteful spending — something Americans just don’t want or need," Vitter’s said at the time.
Since 2012, dollar coins have been produced in sharply lower quantities and only for numismatic purposes — for sale in U.S. Mint products made for coin collectors. These coins and products with them make money.
As such, there seems no purpose for S.95 aside from applying an official Congressional stamp on the program’s termination. An early end to the numismatic $1 products would actually cost the U.S. Mint money.
Thirty-two presidents have already been honored on $1 coins since 2007. Only 6 designs remain until the program ends naturally in 2016. Due for release this year and shown above are the 2015 Presidential $1 Coins honoring Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. The last two coins for 2016 depict Richard M. Nixon and Gerald R. Ford.
If S.95 becomes law, it would amend Title 31, Section 5112 of the United States Code which includes the original authorization for the Presidential $1 Coins.