Congressman Steve Stivers of Ohio introduced legislation in the United States House of Representatives earlier this month seeking to change the composition of circulating one cent and nickel coins. Both denominations would be struck from a composition of steel if the associated bills were to become law.
The bill seeking to change the cent coins is known as the Cents and Sensibility Act, H.R. 3693. The bill looking to modify the nickel composition is called the Saving Taxpayer Expenditures by Employing Less Imported Nickel Act, H.R. 3694, or the STEEL Nickel Act.
“This legislation is a common-sense solution to decrease the cost of minting pennies and nickels,” said Representative Steve Stivers after introducing the nickel and cent coin steel composition acts. “Not only will it cost less, but steel is an American resource that we have and can manufacture right here in our backyard.”
Currently, both coins cost the United States Mint more to produce than their associated face values. In fact, according to the US Mint’s last annual report dated 2010, the one cent coin cost 1.79 cents to produce while the nickel cost 9.22 to strike.
These costs have been rising in recent years based on an increasing cost for the base metals used to produce them. The nickel coin has been struck from 75% copper and 25% nickel since 1866 (with the exception of the silver nickel struck during World War II).The cent coin is composed of 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper.
Both coin composition laws have been referred to the House Committee on Financial Services. For them to become law, the bills must pass both houses of Congress and be signed by the President of the United States.