Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced on Wednesday that the new $20 bill, at one time intended to feature abolitionist Harriet Tubman, won’t be introduced in 2020 — as originally planned — but rather in 2028, CNBC reports. Had the bill been issued in 2020, the release of the new design would have coincided with the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in the United States.
Back in 2015, the Treasury Department asked the general public to suggest personalities or historical figures to be featured on a new $20 bill. The redesigned bill was initially set to be introduced in 2020. Then, in 2016 — as then-Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced on the Treasury Department‘s website — the winner was declared to be Tubman. “The decision to put Harriet Tubman on the new $20 was driven by thousands of responses we received from Americans young and old,” Lew wrote.
The move was not met with widespread acclaim, however. For example, Donald Trump would later say that the move was nothing short of “pure political correctness,” suggesting instead that Tubman be featured on the $2 bill.
Now, however, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin — himself a Trump appointee — has stated that the release of the new bill will have to wait until 2028.
— The Hill (@thehill) May 22, 2019
Further, according to CNN, the new $20 bill may not feature Tubman at all. Mnuchin said that no decision has been made on the “imagery” which will appear on the bill.
During a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee, Mnuchin said that the reason for the delay had to do with security and counterfeiting concerns.
“The primary reason we have looked at redesigning the currency is for counterfeiting issues. Based upon this, the $20 bill will now not come out until 2028. The $10 bill and the $50 bill will come out with new features beforehand.”
Not everyone in Congress is buying that explanation, however. New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen said in a statement that the delay “sends an unmistakable message to women and girls, and communities of color.”
In fact, this is not the first time that Mnuchin has delayed the release of the Harriet Tubman $20 bill. As CNN reports, Mnuchin said in January of 2018 that he hadn’t made a decision on the $20 bill redesign.
Harriet Tubman was born into slavery in or around January of 1822. She later escaped, and in her life she led 13 missions to rescue slaves and, via the Underground Railroad, ferry them to freedom. In her later life, she was an abolitionist and an advocate for women’s suffrage.