WASHINGTON - The Biden administration is “exploring ways” to put 19th century abolitionist leader Harriet Tubman on the front of the $20 bill.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday the Treasury Department is taking steps to resume efforts to put Tubman on the $20 bill.
Former Treasury Secretary in the Obama administration, Jack Lew, had selected Tubman to replace Andrew Jackson, the nation's seventh president, on the currency.
But Tubman's fate had been in doubt since the 2016 presidential campaign, based on critical comments by then-candidate Donald Trump, who branded the move “pure political correctness.”
Trump administration Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin did not move forward with the decision. Instead, he announced in May 2019 a delay in redesigning the $20 bill in order to first redesign the $10 and $50 bills to improve security features to thwart counterfeiters.
The unveiling of the redesigned $20 bill featuring Tubman, famous for her efforts spiriting slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad, had been timed by the Obama administration to coincide with the 100th anniversary of passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.
Under the schedule Mnuchin announced in 2019, the redesigned $20 bill would not come out until 2028, with final designs for the bill not announced until 2026.
But Psaki told reporters during a briefing Monday that she and other officials were surprised to hear of the delays. With a change in administrations, she said the Treasury Department was taking steps to accelerate the effort.
“It is important that our ... money reflect the history and diversity of our country, and Harriet Tubman's image gracing the new $20 note would certainly reflect that,” Psaki said. “We are exploring ways to speed up that effort.”
Psaki said specifics on a new timeline for introducing the redesigned currency would be announced when finalized by the Treasury Department. Biden has selected Janet Yellen to be his Treasury secretary, the first woman to hold that position in the department's 232 years.