Bipartisan bill would force Treasury to put Tubman on $20 bill

A bipartisan House bill would replace President Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said his department is reconsidering plans to make the change.

Reps. John Katko (R-N.Y.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) introduced a bill Friday that would force the Treasury Department to swap Jackson for Tubman on the $20, a change announced by the Obama administration in 2016.


The bill would require Treasury to update the $20 with Tubman’s portrait by 2020, making her the only woman to appear on the front of a United States paper note. Katko and Cummings called on Treasury to honor Tubman, the abolitionist icon that helped thousands of slaves escape to freedom, and introduced a similar bill to do so in 2015.

“Harriet Tubman is a hero who bravely led countless Americans to freedom and opportunity, courageously fought for her country, and was an outspoken advocate for women’s suffrage,” said Katko, whose central New York district includes a national park named after Tubman.

“Too often, our nation does not do enough to honor the contributions of women in American history, especially women of color,” said Cummings, former chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. “I am proud to introduce this bill with Rep. Katko to honor Harriet Tubman’s role in making America a more free and more equal society.”

The bill was released one week after Mnuchin told CNBC that Treasury would reconsider plans finalized by his predecessor, Jack Lew, to redesign the $20, $10 and $5 bills.

“It’s not something that I’m focused on at the moment,” Mnuchin said. “The issues of why we change it will be primarily related to what we need to do for security purposes.”

The Treasury Department announced changes to the $20, $10 and $5 bills last year. The department initially planned to place Jackson’s image with an image of the White House on the back of the $20 bill.

New designs for the back of the $10 bill featured leaders of the suffrage movement, while the back of the $5 bill would feature depictions of historic civil rights events at the Lincoln Memorial.

Lew said at the time that Treasury’s first priority was making the bills harder to counterfeit, but added that he wanted to take the opportunity to recognize a broader range of American heroes.

Tags Jack Lew Steven Mnuchin

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