Senator Tom Harkin wants to make the dollar bill a thing of the past. He and Senator John McCain are sponsoring legislation that would phase out the one-dollar bill, the paper money, and replace it with the one-dollar coin. Harkin says there are nearly one-and-a-half billion coins, coins worth a buck each, just sitting in storage it’s time to start using them.

“A dollar coin lasts for 17 years,” Harkin says. “A dollar bill gets run through all the time. They put it in landfills.” Paper notes — including dollar bills with George Washington’s image on the front — last for up to five years.

Coins last three times longer and Harkin says the government could save some significant money if people start using dollar coins rather than dollar bills. “It could save us $200-500 million dollars a year,” Harkin says.

Harkin has tried to kill the bill before. He sponsored legislation back in 1989 to switch to a dollar coin. But Harkin says this fall may be the perfect time to renew the pitch because saving as much as $500-million by making the switch may prove popular.

“Our chances might be a little bit better towards the end of this year when we’re looking at extending the tax breaks and what we’re going to do about the tax code and the budget,” Harkin says. “Well, you know, they’re going to be looking for places to save money. We’ve got one right here where they can save a lot of money.”

Harkin made his comments on Iowa Public Radio.