During an interview with CNBC on Thursday, Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin left the placement of Harriet Tubman‘s imagery on the $20 bill in limbo.
“Ultimately we will be looking at this issue. It’s not something I’m focused on at the moment,” he said.
Mnuchin claimed that his priority is to ensure U.S. currency can withstand counterfeiting, than with the photos of historical figures on the bill.
“The No. 1 issue why we change the currency is to stop counterfeiting. So the issues of what we change will be primarily related to what we need to do for security purposes. I’ve received classified briefings on that. And that’s what I’m focused on for the most part,” he continued. “People have been on the bills for a long period of time. And this is something we will consider. Right now, we’ve got a lot more important issues to focus on,” Mnuchin said.
Mnuchin’s indecisive claim could thwart the plans of former president Barack Obama and former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. In 2016, Lew proposed to replace the front of the $20 bill with Tubman, while Andrew Jackson’s photo remained on the back. The bill was expected to be released in 2020 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment which granted women the right to vote.
Tubman, a revolutionary and abolitionist who helped thousands escape to freedom during slavery through an intricate path called the Underground Railroad, won an April 2016 SurveyMonkey poll which showed the majority of the poll’s participants were in favor of the decision.
Critics on social media are calling on Mnuchin to remain in line with the previous administration’s decision after CNBC reporter Ylan Q. Mui tweeted on Thursday:
If Trump’s administration fails to move forward with the proposal, it would fall in line with their incessant need to undo most of the legislation Obama put in place.
After it was announced that Tubman would replace Jackson, Trump gave an interview where he called Tubman “fantastic” but said the move fell in line with “pure political correctness.
“Well, Andrew Jackson had a great history, and I think it’s very rough when you take somebody off the bill,” Trump said. “I think Harriet Tubman is fantastic, but I would love to leave Andrew Jackson or see if we can maybe come up with another denomination.”
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