This was supposed to be the year when Harriet Tubman would finally grace the $20 bill. But the Trump administration has other plans.
Despite nationwide protests and a push for racial equality, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters on Thursday that the design featuring Tubman — a former slave known for her work helping free African Americans from bondage — will not be sped up to be unveiled this year, according to the New York Times.
The Secretary’s remarks reaffirming his stance on the Tubman bill come despite the Obama administration’s initial timeline that had the design of the note being unveiled in 2020 — and amid nationwide calls for racial justice since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced plans in 2016 to replace former President Andrew Jackson, a slaveholder, with Tubman.
Mnuchin repeated in his call with reporters that the redesign would not be released until 2030 because the new currency would require development of anti-counterfeiting technology and a new print process.
“I just want to clarify that we have not changed any of this and this is something in the distant future,” Mnuchin said, calling reports that he had delayed it a “myth,” the paper said.
A spokesperson for the Treasury Department called the NYT story a mischaracterization of the facts in an email to CNN.
The spokesperson made comments echoing those made in 2019 by Lydia Washington, a spokesperson for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, which is overseen by the Treasury Department. Washington told CNN that the Federal Reserve Board and the Secret Service set that 2030 timeline back in 2015 and opted to redesign the $10 and the $50 bills first.
The redesigned $10 bill is set to come out in 2026.
Since the $20 bill is the standard A.T.M. bill, it has the highest volume and requires more time to implement robust security features, the Treasury Department said.
“The primary reason for currency redesign is security against counterfeiting, not aesthetics,” Washington said.
The Times reported last year that work on a redesigned $20 note featuring Tubman began before President Donald Trump took office and that the “basic design already on paper most likely could have satisfied the goal of unveiling” the note in 2020.
The paper reported that current and former department employees said that Mnuchin decided to delay the redesign of the $20 note to avoid the possibility of Trump stopping the plans and possibly creating “even more controversy.”
However, Mnuchin disputed the claim at the time.
Mnuchin pushed off responsibility of Jackson being replaced on the $20 note to a future treasury secretary, and he declined to comment to the Times when asked if he believed Tubman should be added to the $20 bill.
“I’m not going to comment on it because, as I’ve said, it’s not going to be my decision,” Mnuchin said. “It’s going to be a Treasury secretary’s decision in the future.”
Trump has spoken out against the decision to replace Jackson on the $20 bill when he was a candidate, calling the decision “pure political correctness.”