Harriet Tubman $20 Bill Change to Be Accelerated by Biden Administration, Jen Psaki Says

President Joe Biden will accelerate plans to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill after those [...]

President Joe Biden will accelerate plans to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill after those efforts were slowed during President Donald Trump's administration, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Monday. The plan was first announced during President Barack Obama's last full year in office, but the initiative was put on the back burner in the past four years. Trump was a fan of President Andrew Jackson, the person now pictured on the $20 bill, even having a portrait of Jackson in the Oval Office.

"The Treasury Department is taking steps to resume efforts to put Harriet Tubman on the front of the new $20 notes," Psaki said, reports the New York Times. "It's important that our money reflect the history and diversity of our country." The Treasury Department is looking into ways to speed up the process after former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in 2019 that notes with Tubman's image would not be in circulation until 2028, long after Trump leaves office. Biden has nominated former Fed Chair Janet Yellen as his first Treasury Secretary, and her Senate confirmation vote is scheduled for Monday.

Obama's second Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew, announced the new design for the $20 bill in April 2016, with the hopes of having the new bill in circulation by 2020 to mark the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. Jackson would be moved to the back of the bill. After Mnuchin delayed those plans, Congressional Democrats called on the Treasury inspector general to investigate the delay. The investigation concluded there was no wrongdoing by Mnuchin.

Tubman will be the first African American on the front of U.S. currency. She was born into slavery in the early 1820s and helped lead hundreds of slaves to freedom before and during the Civil War as one of the conductors on the Underground Railroad. She died in 1913 at 90 and has since become a symbol of freedom. "For me, having Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill really says, first of all, that America realizes that it's not the same country that it once was — that it's a place where diversity matters," Lonnie Bunch, the founding director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, told NPR in 2016. "And it allows us to make a hero out of someone like Harriet Tubman, who deserves to be a hero."

Jackson, who owned slaves, has been on the face of the $20 bill since 1928, although his image has been on U.S. currency since at least 1869. Trump criticized the decision to replace Jackson during an April 2016 town hall. He called the decision "pure political correctness." He suggested Tubman could be put on the $2 bill, even though the Treasury no longer prints $2 bills.