Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling for an investigation into the Trump administration’s delay of a new $20 bill design featuring Harriet Tubman.
A redesign of the bill was first initiated under former President Barack Obama to replace the likeness of former President Andrew Jackson with that of Tubman, a famous abolitionist, in 2020. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said last month that he did not anticipate the bill coming before 2028, though The New York Times reported Friday that Treasury had been “well underway” with “extensive work” on the bill’s new look at the time of Mnuchin’s announcement.
Schumer asked Treasury Inspector General Eric Thorson to investigate the Treasury’s decision to postpone the bill’s redesign, as well as the involvement of other agencies “including the Secret Service, Federal Reserve, and the White House – to ensure that political considerations have not been allowed to infect the process for designing American currency,” he added.
“There is no reason to reverse the original decision to recognize her heroic legacy on the $20 note,” Schumer wrote in a letter to Thorson on Wednesday. “Any unnecessary delays, especially for political reasons, in redesigning the $20 note in her honor are improper and unacceptable.”
Schumer argued that Tubman should be “honored for her bravery, compassion, and service to the United States,” adding that “if the Empire State Building could be completed in 13 months almost 100 years ago, the 21st Century Treasury Department ought to be able to get this job done in a reasonable period of time.”
When pressed on the redesign by Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Ayanna Pressley during a House Financial Services Committee hearing in May, Mnuchin replied, “I’ve made no decision as it relates to that.”
Citing his focus on anti-counterfeiting and security measures, Mnuchin added at the time that the $20 bill “will not be an issue that comes up until most likely 2026” and would not come out until 2028.
But according to the Times’ story on Friday, a design featuring Tubman “was completed in late 2016,” and a “basic design already on paper most likely could have satisfied the goal of unveiling” the redesigned note next year as initially planned.
President Donald Trump has previously pushed back against the redesign. In April 2016, then-candidate Trump said that while Tubman “is fantastic,” the move to portray her instead of Jackson on the $20 bill was “pure political correctness.”
CNN’s Devan Cole, Donna Borak and Eli Watkins contributed to this report.