WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday the redesign of the $20 bill to feature 19th-century abolitionist leader Harriet Tubman has been delayed.
The decision to replace Andrew Jackson, the nation's seventh president, with Tubman on the $20 bill had been made by Mnuchin's predecessor, former Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, who had served in the Obama administration.
Tubman's fate had been in doubt since the 2016 campaign based on critical comments by then-candidate Donald Trump, who branded the move an act of "pure political correctness."
Mnuchin, however, said the delay in unveiling a $20 redesign had been prompted by the decision to redesign the $10 bill and the $50 bill first for security reasons. He said those bills will now be introduced before a redesigned $20 bill.
Mnuchin made the announcement of the delay in response to questions from Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., during an appearance before the House Financial Services Committee.
The unveiling of the redesigned $20 bill featuring Tubman, famous for her efforts spiriting slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad, had been timed by the Obama administration to coincide with the 100th anniversary in 2020 of the passage of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote.
"Currently our currency does not reflect the diversity of people who have contributed to our great American history," Pressley told Mnuchin.
Mnuchin would not say whether he supported keeping Tubman on the redesigned $20. He said under the revised timeline, that decision will be left to whoever is Treasury secretary in 2026.
Mnuchin said the redesigned $20 bill will not come out until 2028 which he said means that a final design for that bill will not be announced until 2026.
He said the redesign of the bills was being done to introduce new security features to make it harder for the bills to be counterfeited. Based on the security issues, it had been decided to introduce redesigned $10 bills and $50 bills ahead of the $20 bill.
"It is my responsibility to focus on the issue of counterfeiting and the security features," Mnuchin said.
During the 2016 campaign, Trump had praised Jackson for his "history of tremendous success" and suggested that Tubman could be placed on a different bill such as the $2 bill.
Lew had arrived at the decision to displace Jackson on the $20 bill after first generating a loud outcry with his initial proposal to put a woman on the $10 bill, replacing Alexander Hamilton. Fans of Hamilton, a group that had grown with the popularity of the hit Broadway musical, felt it would be wrong to take him off the nation's currency.