Watch CBS News

The Harriet Tubman $20 bill was set for 2020. Now the Trump administration says it won't happen for years

Harriet Tubman on $20 bill to be delayed
Harriet Tubman's appearance on $20 bill to be delayed 01:35

Don't bet on seeing a Harriet Tubman $20 bill anytime soon. The redesigned bill bearing Tubman's face, which was supposed to debut next year, will not be coming out for nearly a decade, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said.

Planning started years ago to have Tubman replace former President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. Tubman, who was born into slavery and became a noted abolitionist and political activist, would be the first black woman to have her face on U.S. currency. The new bill was scheduled to be released in 2020 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

But Mnuchin said Wednesday that it won't be happening under the Trump administration.

"It's not a decision that is likely to come until way past my term, even if I serve the second term for the president," Mnuchin told the House Financial Services Committee. "So I'm not focused on that for the moment."

In the Women on 20s grassroots campaign, which inspired bills in the House and the Senate, Harriet Tubman came out the frontrunner to replace President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill, after more than 600,000 people cast ballots.

Mnuchin said a redesign of the bill's security features will still come out in 2020. But the issue of changing how the bill looks "most likely" won't come up again until 2026, he said, and the new $20 bill won't be printed until 2028. 

Mnuchin did not explain why the Tubman bill won't be produced on his watch. He also did not state whether he personally supports seeing Tubman on the money. "I've made no decision as it relates to that," he said.

Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, who grilled Mnuchin about the Tubman plan, tweeted after the hearing: "People other than white men built this county. And Sec Mnuchin agrees, yet he refuses to update our #currency."

Mnuchin's predecessor in the Obama administration, Jack Lew, oversaw a 10-month process in which the public suggested hundreds of people whose portraits could appear on U.S. bills. He said that process "inspired" him to put Tubman on the $20 bill. The Treasury Department announced in April 2016 that it would work on getting the new bill out "as quickly as possible."

President Trump said during the 2016 campaign that he did not support putting Tubman on the 20, calling the plan "pure political correctness." He suggested instead having Tubman on "the $2 bill" or "another bill." 

Mr. Trump has expressed admiration for President Andrew Jackson, who was a slave owner, and had a portrait of him put in the Oval Office.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.