Harriet Tubman, circa 1870
HB Lindsey | Underwood Archives | Getty Images
“We’re exploring ways to speed up that effort,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Monday after being asked if the new administration would pick up the Obama-era initiative.
The updated $20 note featuring Tubman, the former slave who became an icon of the abolition movement, was originally set to be unveiled around the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote.
But Trump’s Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, announced during a 2019 congressional hearing that the redesign would be delayed until 2028. Mnuchin said at the time that the primary reason for redesigning a currency is to combat counterfeiting efforts.
Psaki said Monday that the Treasury Department is “taking steps to resume efforts” to put Tubman’s image on the front of the new $20 bills.
It’s important for U.S. bills to “reflect the history and diversity of our country,” Psaki said, “and Harriet Tubman’s image gracing the new $20 note would certainly reflect that.”
Tubman’s face on the bill would replace that of Andrew Jackson, the seventh U.S. president. Trump was such a big fan of Jackson’s that he featured a portrait of Jackson in the Oval Office. Biden, who took office last Wednesday, removed the portrait.
Trump before being elected had called the plan to replace Jackson with Tubman “pure political correctness.”
The Treasury Department did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Psaki’s remarks.
Jack Lew, the Treasury secretary under former President Barack Obama who spearheaded the effort to put Tubman on the $20, did not immediately provide comment.