The oversight plan for the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Financial Services for the 112th Congress was released Feb. 10 and addresses coins and paper currency more extensively than in recent years.
The House Financial Services Committee is chaired by Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala. It has jurisdiction over all issues pertaining to the economy, the banking system, housing, insurance, and securities and exchanges, along with monetary policy.
The committee is also responsible for oversight of the U.S. Mint and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
The report indicated some key areas that the committee would be examining, including methods to reduce the cost of minting coins.
Along with looking at cost-reduction possibilities, the committee plans to examine the long-term demand for circulating coins and paper money, considering measures to maintain an adequate supply of each while controlling costs to the taxpayers.
Paper money and counterfeits
In continuance of its goals for the past several Congresses, the committee will examine efforts to make paper currency more accessible to the visually impaired.
New for the 112th Congress, the plan states that the committee will examine the difficulties that the BEP has experienced in producing the newest series of $100 bills.
The Federal Reserve Board announced on Oct. 1 that the issue date of the redesigned, Series 2009 $100 note would be delayed from a planned February release, citing “a problem with sporadic creasing of the paper during printing of the new $100 note, which was not apparent during extensive pre-production testing.”
The originally scheduled release date was Feb. 10; a new release date has not been announced.
Counterfeiting has been in the forefront of the coin hobby for the past several years, and the committee will review efforts to detect and combat the counterfeiting of U.S. coins and paper currency in the United States and abroad.
Going beyond what the committee has included in plans for past Congresses, the committee aims to expand beyond circulating coins and examine the counterfeiting of rare or investment-grade coins both in the United States and internationally.
Presumably this would include the deceptive counterfeits that are marketed from China, a subject of extensive Coin World coverage as an issue affecting numismatics.
Looking at American Eagles
Another topic the committee will examine is the difficulty the U.S. Mint has had in meeting investor and collector demand for bullion coin products such as the American Eagle gold and silver bullion coins.
The committee plan prepared in 2009 for the 111th Congress made no mention of bullion coins, yet recent events have made it clear that the area needs to be addressed.
The U.S. Mint did not strike Proof American Eagle gold and silver bullion coins in 2009, citing unexpectedly high demand for its bullion coin products and a requirement that it prioritize bullion coins over Proof collector versions as reasons.
The Coin Modernization, Oversight, and Continuity Act of 2010, which became law Dec. 14, 2010, addressed the U.S. Mint’s problems, providing it greater flexibility to produce both bullion and collector versions of American Eagle coins. ■