Cummings again seeks law to put Harriet Tubman on $20 bill; Mnuchin still mum

It’s still not clear whose face will be on the $20 bill in 2020.

Last month, a bipartisan pair of lawmakers, Elijah Cummings, a Baltimore Democrat, and John Katko, a New York Republican, re-introduced legislation to require the Treasury Department to put abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. Tubman would replace President Andrew Jackson's portrait.


“Too often, our nation does not do enough to honor the contributions of women in American history, especially women of color. Placing Harriet Tubman on our U.S. currency would be a fitting tribute to a woman who fought to make the values enshrined in our Constitution a reality for all Americans," Cummings said in a statement.

If approved, Tubman would be the first African-American pictured on the face of U.S. currency.


Asked Wednesday whether the Treasury Department would be putting Harriet Tubman’s face on the bill by 2020, a spokeswoman referred to comments made by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin at the Washington Economic Club in January 2018. He said then, “We haven’t made any decisions.”

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The spokeswoman said Mnuchin’s position remains the same. She added that “the primary focus when changing the currency is on developing new security features to prevent counterfeiting.”

Cummings and Katko first introduced the Harriet Tubman Tribute Act in 2017 after Mnuchin declined to commit to the Tubman $20 bill in a 2017 interview on CNBC.

"Harriet Tubman is a hero who bravely led countless Americans to freedom and opportunity, courageously fought for her country," Katko said in a statement. "I'm proud to once again introduce legislation with Rep. Cummings to honor the life of Harriet Tubman and her incredible contributions to this great nation."

In 2016, the Obama administration announced a redesign of the $20 bill that included an image of Tubman, the Dorchester County native who ferried dozens of slaves to freedom.

Jack Lew, Mnuchin's predecessor, announced in 2016 that Tubman would be featured on a new $20 bill to be unveiled in 2020, the 100th anniversary of the year women received the right to vote. At the time, then-candidate Donald Trump described the announcement as "pure political correctness."

President Trump has repeatedly praised Jackson, who was president from 1829 to 1837. Jackson, Trump said last year, “had a history of tremendous success for the country” and “represented somebody really that was very important to this country.”

Trump said he would “love to see another denomination” for Tubman.