House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) are not letting the Trump administration off the hook for its delay in releasing a new $20 bill featuring Harriet Tubman.
“It is an insult to the hopes of millions that the Trump Administration is refusing to honor Harriet Tubman on our $20 bill,” Pelosi tweeted on Thursday. “This unnecessary decision must be reversed.”
Last month, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin announced his department would not meet its own deadline to unveil the bill in 2020, saying it would now come out in 2028. Mnuchin pointed to currency security and “counterfeiting issues” as the main concerns about changing the bill.
Tubman, who was born into slavery, was an abolitionist and women’s suffrage advocate who died in 1913. The original 2020 deadline would have fallen on the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment establishing women’s suffrage.
In remarks on the Senate floor Thursday, Schumer called the Trump administration’s reason for the delay “simply not credible.”
“If you believe that, I have a bridge I can sell you,” he said, adding that “the whole thing smacks of politics.”
Schumer noted that then-candidate Trump in 2016 called the bill redesign ”pure political correctness.” On the new bill, Tubman’s image would replace that of the seventh U.S. president, Andrew Jackson. Trump has previously expressed a strong affinity for Jackson, a slaveholder, who would be relegated to the back of the redesigned bill under the plan.
On Wednesday ― which was Juneteenth, a day commemorating the end of chattel slavery in the U.S. ― Schumer wrote a letter to the Treasury Department’s Office of Inspector General, calling for an investigation of the department’s decision to delay the currency redesign and whether the White House had any role in it.
The Treasury Department’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) said in a statement last week that security features were still in development for the bill redesign and claimed it was “never going to unveil a note design in 2020.”
“No Bureau or Department official has ‘scrapped’ anything,” BEP director Len Olijar said, adding that “everything remains on the table.”
When asked about Schumer’s request for an investigation, the Treasury Department pointed to the BEP statement from last week. The White House did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
“There are no women, no people of color on our currency today, even though they make up a significant majority of our population,” Schumer noted Thursday, calling a new Harriet Tubman note “long overdue.”
This article was updated with a statement from the Treasury Department’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing.