No Movement on Changing the $20 Bill

The government previously approved changing the face of the $20 bill, but it appears that effort has waned after the 2016 election.

Remember the efforts under the Obama administration to put Harriet Tubman onto the $20 bill?

In 2016, the Treasury Department announced that it was going to change the design of the $20 bill to remove Andrew Jackson’s photo and replace it with one of Harriet Tubman.

That news has dropped off of the radar, but some lawmakers have not forgotten about it.

Congressmen John Katko (R-NY) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD) along with Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) recently issued a joint statement prodding the Treasury Department to move forward with the change:

When it was announced that Harriet Tubman’s likeness would appear on the redesign of the twenty, it was an inspirational moment for women and girls, and the African American community. We are very concerned that the administration is stalling this historic effort. We urge the administration to follow through and expedite the redesign of the twenty. In lieu of progress by the Treasury Department, we hope Congress will pass the Harriet Tubman Tribute Act of 2019 to make it clear in statute that the redesign of the twenty must honor Harriet Tubman and in a timely fashion. Harriet Tubman’s fight for equality and freedom embodies the American spirit and she deserves to be featured beside our founding fathers. Our currency should finally reflect the important role women, and women of color, have played in our nation’s history.

Katko reintroduced the Harriet Tubman Tribute Act (H.R. 1083) earlier this year, and Shaheen introduced companion legislation in the Senate (S. 872).

The announcement that the currency would be changing happened under the previous administration. However, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin indicated after the 2016 election that the Trump administration was reconsidering the change.

“People have been on the bills for a long period of time,” Mnuchin said in 2017. “This is something we’ll consider. Right now we’ve got a lot more important issues to focus on.”

If either of the bills were to pass Congress and become law, it would force the Treasury Department to move forward with changing the $20 bill.

Update: Mnuchin said Wednesday that release of the new bill would be delayed until 2028.

“The primary reason we’ve looked at redesigning the currency is for counterfeiting issues,” Mnuchin said at a Congressional hearing on Wednesday. “Based upon this, the $20 bill will now not come out until 2028. The $10 bill and the $50 bill will come out with new features beforehand. The ultimate decision on the redesign will most likely be another secretary’s down the road.” 

What is Your Opinion?

We asked readers in 2016 what you thought of the announcement to change the $20 bill to add Harriet Tubman’s photo. You told us very clearly at that time that you disagreed with the proposed change.

Has your opinion changed? Take a look at the results from our latest survey and also feel free to discuss the subject in the comments at the end of the article.

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.