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Biden administration to 'speed up' efforts to put Harriet Tubman on $20 bill

The Trump administration said the $20 bill wasn't going to be redesigned until 2028 but the Biden administration has changed those plans.

Biden administration to 'speed up' efforts to put Harriet Tubman on $20 bill

President Joe Biden's administration has announced it's working to speed up the process of putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. The new administration's initial actions have been focused on undoing much of the decisions taken by Biden's predecessor over the past four years. "It's important that our notes — our money — reflect the history and diversity of our country, and Harriet Tubman's image gracing the new $20 note would certainly reflect that," said White House press secretary Jen Psaki at a White House press briefing on Monday, reported Good Morning America. "So we're exploring ways to speed up that effort." This comes after Trump's treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, told lawmakers in 2019 that there wasn't any plan to put Tubman on the $20 bill in the near future and added that a redesign of the currency would not be issued until 2028. During his 2016 Presidential campaign, Trump had deemed the push to put the abolitionist on the $20 bill as "pure political correctness."

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 27: U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) poses for a photograph before a rally with fellow House Democrats to demand that American abolitionist heroine Harriet Tubman's image be put on the $20 bill outside the U.S. Treasury Department June 27, 2019 in Washington, DC. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told a Congressional committee in June that the Bureau of Engraving and Printing would not be able to meet the 2020 deadline for getting Tubman's image on the bill. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)


Harriet Tubman became a leading abolitionist after escaping slavery in 1849. Tubman helped save countless people from enslavement by leading them along the route of the Underground Railroad and using an elaborate secret network of safe houses, according to Britannica. She often planned rescue missions on Saturday as they wouldn't appear in newspapers until Monday. Tubman was known as the “Moses of her people.” Slaveholders offered rewards for her capture totaling $40,000.


White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed the process of putting Tubman on the $20 bill had been speeded up after the Trump administration had put a stop to the plans. Psaki said the U.S. Treasury Department was working on it, led by Janet Yellen, the first woman to lead the department. "The Treasury Department is taking steps to resume efforts to put Harriet Tubman on front of the new $20 notes," said Psaki. 

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA - JUNE 18: Harriet Tubman's image is projected on the Robert E. Lee Monument as people gather around on June 18, 2020 in Richmond, Virginia. Richmond Circuit Court Judge Bradley Cavedo ruled on Thursday to indefinitely extended an injunction preventing the Virginia governor from removing a historic statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Richmond's famed Monument Avenue (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)


The move was first proposed by the Obama administration in 2015 but put on the back burner by the Trump administration. President Barack Obama's Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew had announced in 2016 that Tubman to replace former President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. Trump's treasury secretary, Mnuchin, had postponed the decision and said it would fall upon his successor to make the call. "The ultimate decision on a redesign will most likely be another secretary later down the road," said Mnuchin in testimony before the House Financial Services Committee in 2019.


Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire is pleased with the announcement and was one of the lawmakers pushing to include more women on money. "I've led efforts in the Senate for years to get this done," tweeted Shaheen, reported CBS News. "The Trump admin dragged their feet without explanation. Ready to help the Biden admin see this through so we can finally give Harriet Tubman the honor and recognition she long deserves."


Representative Joyce Beatty, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, said she is planning to reintroduce the Woman on the Twenty Act of 2021, which would mandate any $20 bill printed after 2024 to "prominently feature" a portrait of Tubman. "For several years, I worked directly with the Department of Treasury to plan the release of the new $20 design featuring Harriet Tubman to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment," said Beatty in a statement. "The American people want our currency to better reflect the diversity of our great country. I look forward to working with the Biden-Harris administration, including the first-ever female secretary of the treasury, Janet Yellen, to put a woman on the twenty and make the Tubman twenty a reality," she said.

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