Lawmakers renew efforts to put Harriet Tubman on $20 bill

Lawmakers renew efforts to put Harriet Tubman on $20 bill
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Lawmakers are seeking to revive efforts to put Harriet Tubman, the African American abolitionist who led hundreds of people out of slavery, on the $20 bill.

New York Rep. John KatkoJohn Michael KatkoDCCC to run ads tying 11 House Republicans to Trump remarks on entitlements Bezos phone breach escalates fears over Saudi hacking House Democrats request briefings on Iranian cyber threats from DHS, FCC MORE (R), one of the lawmakers behind the effort, told local station WKRN that “it should not even be an issue, in my mind.” 

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"We don't have a woman of color, we don't have any person of color on any U.S. currency," he continued, adding he thought when “the Trump administration came in it fell by the wayside.”

In 2016, the Obama administration had announced it would be placing a portrait of Tubman to the front of the $20 bill.

At the time, the Treasury Department announced that the Bureau of Engraving and Printing would be working “closely with the Federal Reserve to accelerate work on the new $20” with the goal to have the bill be brought “into circulation as quickly as possible.”

However, under the Trump administration, the Treasury Department has not indicated it plans to follow through with the former administration’s pledge to honor Tubman’s legacy.

The current Treasury secretary, Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill's Morning Report - Report of Bolton tell-all manuscript roils Trump defense Louise Linton, wife of Mnuchin, deletes Instagram post in support of Greta Thunberg Mnuchin: US 'focused' on reaching trade deal with UK by end of year MORE, also said in 2017 the Trump administration is reconsidering the change.

“People have been on the bills for a long period of time,” Mnuchin said then. “This is something we’ll consider. Right now we’ve got a lot more important issues to focus on.”

Since the Trump administration has taken office, Katko and Rep. Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsBaltimore unveils plaques for courthouse to be named after Elijah Cummings GOP leaders encourage retiring lawmakers to give up committee posts Pelosi taps Virginia Democrat for key post on economic panel MORE (D-Md.) have introduced two bills that would force the administration to put Tubman on the $20 bill if passed.  

The first bill was introduced in September 2017 and the most recent bill was introduced earlier this year in February.

“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,” Cummings said in a release announcing the bill’s reintroduction this year. 

“Harriet Tubman was called the Moses of her people, because after she escaped slavery, she courageously made 19 trips to the South to free more than 300 enslaved African Americans. Her courage, conviction, and commitment to equality represent the best of America and it is long past time we recognize her place in history,” he added. “I am proud to reintroduce this bill with Rep. Katko to honor Harriet Tubman’s role in making America a more free and more equal society.”