U.S. Senators Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., and Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., have introduced bipartisan legislation to allow the U.S. Mint to adjust the metal content of circulating coins in an effort to save taxpayer dollars. The bill could also help the U.S. Mint to produce more coins as banks face a temporary coin shortage due to COVID-19. The U.S. Mint estimates that by adjusting the metal content of coins, the federal government could save between $10-17 million a year.

“I’m pleased to join Senator Hassan in introducing this legislation,” said Senator Enzi. “It aims to provide savings to taxpayers by allowing the mint to change the metallic composition of circulating coins to the most cost-effective standard. We should be looking to increase efficiencies where possible, and this is a commonsense change that would do just that.”

“By tweaking the metal composition of our coins, the U.S. Mint could, in the short-term, create more coins amid a temporary shortage, and, in the long-term, save millions of dollars every year without any significant changes to the coins’ weight or appearance,” said Senator Hassan. “Given the severe strain that the COVID-19 pandemic has put on families and our economies, people and businesses cannot afford to literally be short-changed because there simply aren’t enough coins out in circulation. This is fiscally responsible and commonsense legislation, and I hope my colleagues will join Senator Enzi and me in moving this bill forward.”

The bipartisan Coin Metal Modification Authorization and Cost Savings Act authorizes the U.S. Mint to modify the metallic composition of circulating coins if the modification would reduce costs incurred by taxpayers, allow for a seamless transition into circulation, and have minimal impact on the public.

During a hearing last week, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell discussed how closures across the country have limited the number of coins in circulation, and thus many banks currently do not have enough coins to give out to businesses or individuals. The bill from Senators Hassan and Enzi would open up more options for materials for coins, thus allowing the U.S. Mint to produce additional coins more quickly amid this shortage.