Treasury Secretary Mnuchin declines to commit to putting Harriet Tubman on $20 bill
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Thursday that he's "not focused on" and would not commit to stick to a plan to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill, saying in an interview Thursday that he is more concerned about security measures to prevent counterfeiting.
Speaking to CNBC, Mnuchin said the plan set out by his predecessor under former President Barack Obama, Jack Lew, was not an immediate priority.
"Ultimately we will be looking at this issue," Mnuchin said. "It's not something I'm focused on at the moment."
"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," Mnuchin said.
"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," he added.
Lew announced in April 2016 plans to put Tubman, the escaped slave-turned-abolitionist, on the $20, replacing President Andrew Jackson. He said Alexander Hamilton, the nation's first Treasury secretary and the architect of much of the American government and its financial system, would keep his place on the front of the $10 bill.
The Treasury has a schedule for periodic updates to U.S. currency to improve security, and the design and rollout process of the new $20 was set to take several years, following an update to the $10 that would see other female figures added to the back of the bill.
While the choice was lauded by many activists who hoped to see more diverse representation on U.S. currency, then candidate Trump said did not want Jackson to be kicked off the bill.
"I think Harriet Tubman is fantastic, Trump said during the campaign. "I would love to leave Andrew Jackson and see if we can maybe come up with another denomination. Maybe we do the $2 bill or we do another bill."
Jackson's legacy of forcing the removal of Native Americans from their ancestral lands, as well as his fierce opposition to paper money, has made him a target of activists seeking to see him removed from the $20.
But Trump, who has a portrait of Jackson up in the Oval Office, said during the campaign that he thought removing Jackson was "pure political correctness."
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