Lawmakers renew efforts to put Harriet Tubman on $20 bill

Lawmakers renew efforts to put Harriet Tubman on $20 bill
© Getty Images/ Twitter

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 KatkoStudent loan borrowers are defaulting yearly — how can we fix it? Overnight Defense: Woman accusing general of sexual assault willing to testify | Joint Chiefs pick warns against early Afghan withdrawal | Tensions rise after Iran tries to block British tanker House approves amendment to reverse transgender military ban MORE (R), one of the lawmakers behind the effort, told local station WKRN that “it should not even be an issue, in my mind.” 

ADVERTISEMENT

"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 MnuchinBudget talks between White House, Pelosi spill into weekend Conservative group raises concerns about potential budget deal How China's currency manipulation cheats America on trade 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 CummingsCummings asks prosecutors about decision not to charge Trump in hush money probe DHS chief to Pelosi: Emergency border funding 'has already had an impact' Cummings tears into DHS chief for conditions at migrant border facilities 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.”