When the Treasury Department announced in May that the Harriet Tubman design on the new $20 bill would be delayed until 2028, the media and Democrats were quick to blame the Trump administration.
But members of the Obama administration have now revealed that the pace of the bill’s release is in keeping with the Obama administration’s timeline.
What’s the background?
The new design for the $20 bill was initially expected in 2020. But on May 22, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) that the Treasury Department was still working on anti-counterfeiting measures.
“Based upon this, the $20 bill will now not come out until 2028. The $10 and the $50 will come out with new features beforehand,” he said.
On June 20, Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tweeted, “It is an insult to the hopes of millions that the Trump Administration is refusing to honor Harriet Tubman on our $20 bill. This unnecessary decision must be reversed.”
President Donald Trump has also publicly expressed his liking for the $20 bill’s current occupant: former President Andrew Jackson, and repeatedly compared himself to the seventh president.
Jackson is a controversial president — both for his treatment of Native Americans and his abuse of executive power — and the decision to replace him with Tubman was widely praised by people in both major parties.
What happened now?
Two officials from the Obama administration and a third who was appointed by former President George W. Bush but also served in the Obama administration told the Washington Post that this delay was not the Trump administration’s fault at all. Rather, 2028 is in keeping with the timeline that the Obama-era Treasury Department expected. At least one of these officials is currently still working in the government.
It is not clear why Mnuchin did not clarify this after he was being accused of delaying the process.
Obama’s former Treasury Secretary, Jack Lew, who made the decision to swap Jackson’s photo for Tubman’s, declined to give the Washington Post a comment on this timeline.