President Joe Biden’s administration is reviving a stalled plan to put the American abolitionist Harriet Tubman’s face on the $20 bill, the White House confirmed Monday.
“The Treasury Department is taking steps to resume efforts to put Harriet Tubman on the front of the new $20 notes,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki revealed after a reporter asked about the status of the plans, which Trump’s administration had sidelined.
Arrangements for the updated bill originated under the Obama administration as a way to honor the abolition movement and Tubman’s legacy of leading hundreds of enslaved people to freedom. She would be the first Black person to appear on a U.S. note.
“It’s important that our notes ... reflect the history and diversity of our country, and Harriet Tubman’s image gracing the new $20 note would certainly reflect that,” Psaki said. “So we’re exploring ways to speed up that effort.”
Trump’s administration had stalled those plans and said in 2019 that it would not be able to unveil a design featuring Tubman by 2020. A spokesperson for Steven Mnuchin, Trump’s treasury secretary, said at the time that they were still on track to release the redesigned $20 bill by 2030, but she would not confirm that it would still feature Tubman.
Democratic lawmakers slammed Trump and Mnuchin for not being transparent about the redesign. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) accused Mnuchin of allowing “Trump’s racism and misogyny to prevent him from carrying out the will of the people.”
Many suspected Trump did not want to see President Andrew Jackson removed from the bill, as he’s often cited the 1829-1837 president as a hero and inspiration to him. Trump had a portrait of Jackson, a slave owner, prominently featured in the Oval Office throughout his single term.
Biden’s treasury secretary nominee, Janet Yellen, who would oversee plans for the Tubman note, advanced in the Senate last week and requires just one more vote to be confirmed. She is slated to be the first woman to hold the job.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly said Tubman would be the first woman to appear on a U.S. note.