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Treasury secretary won't commit to put Harriet Tubman on bill

Proposal would have moved Andrew Jackson to the reverse side of $20 bill

Reuters/Library of Congress

Harriet Tubman in seen a photo dated between 1860-1875.
Reuters/Library of Congress Harriet Tubman in seen a photo dated between 1860-1875.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday would not commit to carry out the Obama administration’s plan to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, saying he had not made a decision about the matter.

Mnuchin said the decision would be based on how to design the currency in a way that prevents counterfeiting, rather than whose portrait was on the bill.

“Ultimately we will be looking at this issue,” Mnuchin said in a CNBC interview. “It’s not something I’m focused on at the moment.”

Mnuchin added that “the issues of why we change it will be primarily related to what we need to do for security purposes.”

President Barack Obama and his then-Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew proposed last year to take President Andrew Jackson’s image off the front of the $20 bill and replace it with Harriet Tubman. Tubman, a famous abolitionist who helped many enslaved people escape, would be the first woman on a U.S. bill and she would also be the first black on U.S. currency.

Under Lew’s plan, Tubman’s image would be on the front of the $20 bill and President Jackson’s image would appear on the reverse of the currency.

The process was supposed to take several years.

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