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Biden administration to move forward with putting Harriet Tubman on $20 bill

Brittany Shepherd
·National Politics Reporter
·2-min read

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that the Biden administration would move forward to put the image of the famed abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill.

“The Treasury Department is taking steps to resume efforts to put Harriet Tubman on the front of the new $20 notes,” she told reporters.

In 2016, the Obama administration announced that Tubman would be featured on new $20 bills, which would be unveiled in 2020. But the process of putting Tubman on the currency slowed to a halt after Donald Trump was elected in 2016.

In 2019, then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the Tubman bills wouldn’t be unveiled until at least 2026. As a candidate for the presidency, Trump had criticized the decision to put Tubman on the $20 bill in place of his political hero, President Andrew Jackson.

Harriet Tubman and Jen Psaki
Harriet Tubman and White House press secretary Jen Psaki. (HB Lindsey/Underwood Archives/Getty Images; Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

“Andrew Jackson had a great history,” Trump said in 2016, “and I think it’s very rough when you take somebody off the bill.” He also said replacing Jackson with Tubman was “pure political correctness.”

He instead proposed putting Tubman on another piece of currency, such as the $2 bill, according to the New York Times.

At a congressional hearing on the redesign in 2019, Democrats criticized Trump’s delay in honoring Tubman, who led numerous slaves to freedom as a “conductor” for the Underground Railroad.

“We not only honor her because of her gender, we not only honor her because of the color of her skin. We honor her for her character, her character to save and preserve and uphold America’s values,” said House Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

Harriet Tubman $20 bill design
Capitol Hill staff member places signs before a news conference by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) on Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin's decision to indefinitely delay putting famous abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the new $20 bill, on the steps of the Treasury Department in Washington, U.S., June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

“The American people understood the importance of representation on the banknotes of the world’s most powerful economy, representation that acknowledged our history and all those who have contributed,” added Rep. Ayanna Pressley, a Massachusetts Democrat.

On Monday, Psaki said the Biden administration would move forward with the creation of a $20 bill featuring Tubman because, she said, it is “important that our money reflects the history and diversity of our country.”

“Harriet Tubman's image gracing the new $20 note would certainly reflect that,” she added.

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