This article was originally printed in Numismatic News.
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Chinese counterfeits might have just gotten the attention of Congress.
The House Financial Services committee has come up with a game plan for the next two years and a review of the fakes that are bedeviling the numismatic industry will be part of it.
Primarily though, the review will have an impact on activities of the U.S. Mint and the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The announcement came Feb. 10 as the full committee voted for a plan of action.
This examination will take place over the next two years during the 112th Congress in its first and second sessions. Democrats and Republicans jointly voted on the plan and, at least with respect to the Mint and BEP, the vote was not along party lines. That means that no specific date has been set for the fakes to come up for committee scrutiny.
The language regarding the fakes is governmentese at its best. In the words of the plan, it would review “efforts to detect and combat the counterfeiting of U.S. coins and currency in the United States and abroad,” and in a first, they stated that they “will examine the counterfeiting of rare or investment-grade coins, U.S.-made and otherwise.”
The committee stated that it “will conduct oversight of the activities of these Treasury bureaus as they relate to the printing and minting of U.S. currency and coins and of the operation of U.S. Mint programs for producing congressionally authorized commemorative coins and congressional gold medals.”
The Committee will also examine, it said, “methods to reduce the cost of minting coins” and went on to say that they would also “examine efforts to make currency more accessible to the visually impaired.” There have been legal challenges on this latter point over the past dozen years.
Examination of “the difficulties the Bureau of Engraving and Printing has experienced in producing the newest series of $100 bills,” as well as the “difficulties the U.S. Mint has experienced in meeting investor and collector demand for bullion coin products,” will also be under review.
Finally, “The Committee will begin an examination of the long-term demand for circulating coins and bank notes, and consider appropriate measures to maintain an adequate supply of each, while controlling costs to the taxpayer.”
Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Ala., chairs the committee; the ranking minority member is Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass. The committee functions both as a body of the whole and in several subcommittees.