Politics

Watch Treasury Sec. Mnuchin Tell Black Rep. That Harriet Tubman Won’t Be On $20 Bill While He’s in Office

he planned redesign of the $20 bill to feature abolitionist Harriet Tubman has been put on hold, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told a panel of lawmakers on Wednesday.

In testimony before the House Financial Services Committee, Mnuchin responded to a question from Massachusetts Democrat Ayanna Pressley about a possible timeline for unveiling the redesign. “The new $20 bill will now not come out until 2028,” he said.

First announced in April 2016 by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, the decision to redesign the $20 bill followed a nearly yearlong public comment period as part of a campaign to feature a woman on a U.S. currency bill for the first time in more than a century.

“Based on this input, I have directed the Bureau of Engraving and Printing to accelerate plans for the redesign of the $20, $10 and $5 notes,” Lew said in the April 2016 announcement. “We already have begun work on initial concepts for each note, which will continue this year. We anticipate that final concept designs for the new $20, $10 and $5 notes will all be unveiled in 2020 in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote.”

Mnuchin said on Wednesday that his department will only “meet the security feature redesign in 2020,” delaying Lew’s original plan to include both new security and design elements by next year.

Mnuchin defended this apparent departure from prior agency planning by referencing the “primary reason” redesigns are most often initiated by the Treasury Department: counterfeiting.

“It is my responsibility now to focus on what is the issue of counterfeiting and the security features,” he told the committee. “The ultimate decision on the redesign will most likely be on other secretaries down the road.”

When pushed on whether he supports a redesign of the $20 bill featuring Tubman, Mnuchin responded, “I’ve made no decision as it relates to that.”

The original revamp of the bill to feature Tubman would have replaced the bill’s current occupant, Andrew Jackson. The move was criticized by then-candidate Donald Trump, a noted admirer of President Jackson.

“I think it’s pure political correctness,” Trump told NBC’s Today Show during the 2016 campaign.

“I think Harriet Tubman is fantastic,” he added. “I would love to leave Andrew Jackson and see if we maybe could come up with another denomination. Maybe we do the $2 bill or we do another bill…. I think it would be more appropriate.”

The redesign announced in 2016 would have retained Jackson’s image on the reverse side of the bill.

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