Treasury secretary won’t commit to putting Harriet Tubman on $20 bill

Treasury Secretary Steve T. Mnunchin would not commit Thursday to following through on a plan to place former slave and abolitionist on the $20 bill.

“Right now, we’ve got a lot more important issues to focus on,” Mnunchin said in a CNBC interview, adding that “ultimately,” the department would be looking at the issue.

“The No.1. issue why we change the currency is to stop counterfeiting,” he said. “So the issues of why we change it will be primarily related to what we need to do for security purposes…. That’s what I’m focused on for the moment.”

In April 2016, in a decision seen as a cultural victory for women and African Americans, former Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew announced plans to replace President Andrew Jackson, who was a slave owner, with Tubman on the front of the $20 bill.

The new bill, which wasn’t set to be released until at least 2020, would feature Tubman on the front and Jackson on the back.

Lew also announced plans to update the backs of additional bills with historical figures — adding a scene from a 1913 march for women’s rights and portraits of five women’s suffrage leaders to the back of the $10 bill and images of Eleanor Roosevelt, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and African American opera singer Marian Anderson on the back of the $5.

President Trump has alluded to his liking for Jackson several times in the past, and although he has called Tubman "fantastic," he said in an April NBC interview that replacing Jackson was "pure political correctness."

"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," Trump said at the time.

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UPDATES:

1:40 p.m.: This article was updated throughout with staff reporting.

This article was originally published at 10:25 a.m.

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