Jan. 26 (UPI) — After it was essentially sidetracked by the Trump administration, the new $20 bill featuring civil rights icon Harriet Tubman — which was announced almost five years ago — is back on the fast track under President Joe Biden.
Former President Barack Obama moved to replace Andrew Jackson, the seventh president of the United States, on the front of the bill with Tubman’s image. It was originally intended to enter circulation in 2020, but former President Donald Trump’s administration delayed the rollout in 2019, citing “counterfeiting issues.”
Former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said at the time the problem would delay the new bill by about eight years. Last year, the Treasury inspector general announced an investigation into the delay.
“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 told reporters on Monday.
Psaki said the push to move forward with Tubman’s portrait on the note “reflects the history and diversity of our country.”
“Harriet Tubman’s image gracing the new $20 note would certainly reflect that,” she said.
Mnuchin’s successor as treasury secretary, former Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen, was confirmed by the Senate on Monday.
In 2016, Tubman topped a poll organized by the “Women on 20s” campaign that asked who Americans would like to see on the $20 bill. Following Tubman in the survey were former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, civil rights activist Rosa Parks and Cherokee Nation leader Wilma Mankiller.
Born into enslavement in Maryland in 1822, Tubman escaped to Philadelphia and led more than a dozen rescue missions that freed more than 300 relatives and friends using the underground railroad network of safe houses and anti-abolitionists.
The original 2016 design for the new $20 bill involved moving the image of Jackson, who had owned slaves, onto the back of the note.
When he was in office, Trump said he preferred to keep Jackson on the $20 and instead put Tubman on the $2, or another bill. He complained to NBC’s Today while he was running for president that putting Tubman on the $20 was “pure political correctness.”
Former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew initially considered putting Tubman on the front of the $10 bill, but switched to the $20 partly due to renewed popularity of former Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, whose image is on the front of the bill.