| USA TODAY
Trump Administration won’t commit to Harriet Tubman on $20 bill
The $20 bill is scheduled for redesign in 2020 and Harriet Tubman’s portrait was going to replace Andrew Jackson’s. Veuer’s Sam Berman has the full story
WASHINGTON – The Biden administration is accelerating steps to feature abolitionist hero Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, a change announced during the Obama administration that stalled under President Donald Trump.
“We’re exploring ways to speed up that effort,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday.
Psaki said it’s important the nation’s currency “reflect the history and diversity of our country.”
After the Obama administration announced the proposed change in 2016, Trump said that replacing former President Andrew Jackson with Tubman on the $20 was “pure political correctness.” He said Tubman could be put on the $2 bill instead.
The new design was initially scheduled for 2020. But Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in 2019 that the department needed to focus first on adding anti-counterfeiting steps and “security features.” He told Congress that changes to the images on currency would not happen until 2026.
“The ultimate decision on the redesign will most likely be another secretary’s down the road,” he said.
Those who criticized the delay included Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, a New Jersey Democrat who co-chaired the Congressional Caucus on Black Women and Girls. She said it was part of a “basic pattern of bias and hate” of the Trump administration.
The last time a portrait on a bill was changed was in 1929, when Alexander Hamilton was placed on the front of the $10 bill, replacing Jackson. Jackson was elevated to the $20 bill in 1928, replacing Grover Cleveland.
By law, no living person can be on a bill, and the secretary of the Treasury is given the ultimate authority over the design of bills, which includes the portrait. The only portrait the secretary is legally required to print on a bill is George Washington, on the $1 bill.
No women or people of color have ever been pictured on a denomination of currency still in circulation, though $1 coins have previously been issued featuring Susan B. Anthony, a pioneer of the women’s suffrage movement, and Sacagawea, the Shoshone woman who accompanied Lewis and Clark n their expedition across the Louisiana Territory.
President Obama launched the effort in 2014, when he said he had gotten a letter from a girl from Massachusetts saying women should appear on currency. Obama called it “a pretty good idea.”
His treasury secretary, Jacob Lew, asked for public comment about which woman should be added.
“We actually listened to people. And there was a legitimate concern about what bill a woman goes on the front of, and what story we had to tell,” Lew said.
In April 2016, he announced that Tubman would be replacing Jackson on the $20 and that Jackson would be moved into a scene of the White House on the reverse side.
Contributing: William Cummings, Nicholas Wu, Deborah Barfield Berry, Ledyard King.
Replacing Jackson with Tubman: The currency process, explained