Update (May 23, 2019): The Trump administration has scrapped plans to print Harriet Tubman’s portrait on the $20 bill.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin made the revelation after Rep. Ayanna Pressley asked him about the initiative on Wednesday during a House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday, reports CNBC. Instead, the Treasury will focus on adding more security features to the $10 and $50 bills.
“The primary reason we have looked at redesigning the currency is for counterfeiting issues,” Mnuchin said. “Based upon this, the $20 bill will now not come out until 2028. The $10 bill and the $50 bill will come out with new features beforehand.”
Pressley expressed her displeasure on Twitter.
People other than white men built this county. And Sec Mnuchin agrees, yet he refuses to update our #currency. #HarrietTubman
#MarianAnderson & #EleanorRoosevelt are iconic Americans & its past time that our ???? reflects that. #RepresentationMatters | https://t.co/nJmhiktHPm
— Rep Ayanna Pressley (@RepPressley) May 22, 2019
“People other than white men built this county. And Sec Mnuchin agrees, yet he refuses to update our #currency,” she wrote. “#HarrietTubman #MarianAnderson & #EleanorRoosevelt are iconic Americans & its past time that our ???? reflects that. #RepresentationMatters”
Tubman’s placement on the $20 was promoted after Jack Lew, Mnuchin’s predecessor, solicited redesign ideas from the public in 2016. The Women on 20s campaign took a vote for suggestions and Tubman came out on top. The campaign released a statement stating their dissatisfaction.
“We’re not surprised that Secretary Mnuchin may be kicking the design reveal of the $20 bill to sometime beyond the potential interference of a Trump presidency,” said Women on 20s. The organization hopes Congress will support a bill from Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, which will require Tubman’s face be placed on bills starting in 2021.
She also condemned the decision in a statement.
“This delay sends an unmistakable message to women and girls, and communities of color, who were promised they’d see Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill,” she said.
“The needless foot-dragging on this important effort is unacceptable. Our currency tells our country’s story and it is past time to honor the contributions of Harriet Tubman.”
President Donald Trump was not a fan of the Tubman redesign when it was announced and called it “pure political correctness,” according to CNN. He also praised former President Andrew Jackson, who owned slaves and ordered Native Americans to walk the brutal trail of tears.
"Well, Andrew Jackson had a great history, and I think it's very rough when you take somebody off the bill," then-presidential candidate Trump said. "I think Harriet Tubman is fantastic, but I would love to leave Andrew Jackson or see if we can maybe come up with another denomination."
Original: It looks like civil rights pioneer Harriet Tubman might end up on the $20 bill after all. According to ABC News, lawmakers have renewed conversations to move forward on production of U.S. currency with her image.
Along with Congressman Elijah Cummings, Congressman John Katkow reintroduced The Harriet Tubman Act before Congress in February. Their measure would order the Treasury Department to put Tubman's face on the bill by the end of next year.
"We don't have a woman of color, we don't have any person of color on any U.S. currency," Rep. Katko said to WKRN on Tuesday.
He continued, "It should not even be an issue, in my mind. When the Trump administration came in it fell by the wayside."
Cummings' comments on the February release when they reintroduced the bill echoes his colleague's most recent remarks.
"Too often, our nation does not do enough to honor the contributions of women in American history, especially women of color. Placing Harriet Tubman on our U.S. currency would be a fitting tribute to a woman who fought to make the values enshrined in our Constitution a reality for all Americans."
As a way to get more women on U.S. money, former U.S. Secretary of Treasury Jacob Lew announced his intentions to have the abolitionist replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill back in 2016. Of course, President Donald Trump called the move "pure political correctness" shortly after it was proposed and insisted Tubman occupy the spot on the $2 bill.
Since news broke, the Trump administration has not indicated if they'll actually sign the bill to recognize Tubman's legacy into law. Current U.S. Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin said in August 2017 that his team has more pressing issues that require his attention.
"People have been on the bills for a long period of time," Mnuchin told CNBC back then. "This is something we'll consider. Right now we've got a lot more important issues to focus on."