As a follow on to the previous post, I wanted to summarize the four coin related bills that have been introduce so far in the 113th Congress.
The first bill H.R. 77 Free Competition in Currency Act of 2013 was introduced on January 3, 2013, the day the new Congress convened. Bills containing identical provisions have been previously introduced by former Congressman Ron Paul in 2007, 2009, and 2011. Like the previous bills, the current bill broadly seeks to repeal legal tender laws and prohibit the taxation of coins and bullion.
On January 13, H.R. 220 Stop the Coin Act was introduced by Rep Greg Walden. This bill would serve to create a maximum denomination of $200 for any coins minted or issued by the Secretary of the Treasury.
The bill was introduced in direct response to the “Trillion Dollar Coin Idea” which was floated as a way to avert the debt ceiling crisis. Under current law, the Secretary may mint and issue platinum bullion and proof coins in denominations at the discretion of the Secretary. Although it hasn’t received as much attention, the Secretary also has broad authority to mint and issue bullion and proof gold coins with denominations at the Secretary’s discretion.
Under a strict interpretation of the law, there would be nothing to prevent the Secretary from creating one or more trillion dollar coins which could be deposited at the Federal Reserve and used for funding. Although both the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve had concluded that this would not be a viable option, the creation of ultra high denomination coins still remains possible under the current law.
The bill proposes amending current law to impose a maximum value of $200 for platinum coins. It would also create a maximum denomination of $200 across all coins minted or issued by the Secretary.
On January 24, S. 94 A bill to terminate the $1 presidential coin program was introduced. The bill would accomplish this by striking the relevant section from the Code.
As I explained in this recent article, the issues that originally prompted a slew of bills seeking to limit or eliminate the Presidential Dollar Program are no longer applicable. Following the Treasury Department decision to suspend production for circulation, growth in the number of $1 coins held in storage has ceased. The coins are produced in quantities needed to fulfill demand from collectors and are sold at a premium to face value, which makes them a very lucrative product offering for the US Mint.
Finally, on January 31, S. 203 was introduced which seeks to authorize a commemorative coin program in recognition and celebration of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Although the text of the bill is not yet available, it seems likely that it would seek the same program proposed in the last Congress. This would include up to 50,000 $5 gold coins, up to 400,000 silver dollars, and up to 750,000 clad half dollars to be issued in 2016. So far, there is one commemorative program already approved for 2016, which will honor Mark Twain.