Lawmakers Press for Tubman’s Image on $20 Bill

    Three lawmakers on Capitol Hill are trying to make Harriet Tubman’s appearance on the $20 bill a reality.

    Maryland Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D), Rep. John Katko (R-N.Y.), and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) pressed the Trump administration on Tuesday to move forward with a redesigned $20 bill featuring the abolitionist leader.

    The three lawmakers have sponsored the “Harriet Tubman Act of 2019,” three years after President Obama’s administration announced that Tubman’s likeness would appear on the bills in 2020.

    President Trump’s Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has not committed to the decision made by his predecessor, Jack Lew.

    Cummings and Katko have introduced the Harriet Tubman Tribute Act in 2015, 2017 and again this year.

    Shaheen introduced the bill in the Senate and has advocated with the grass-roots group Women on 20s, which held an online poll in 2015 about which woman to feature on currency that attracted 600,000 votes, with Tubman the top choice.

    This year’s legislation would direct the Treasury secretary to feature Tubman on all $20 bills printed after Dec. 31, 2020.

    The lawmakers said they fear the Trump administration is stalling the effort.

    “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,” the lawmakers said in a statement. “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.”

    Tubman was born into slavery on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in the 1820s. After escaping slavery, she helped rescue and lead others to freedom as an abolitionist and political activist.

    “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,” the lawmakers wrote.

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    Danielle E. Gaines
    Danielle Gaines most recently worked for Bethesda Beat covering Montgomery County. Previously, she spent six years at The Frederick News-Post as the paper’s principal government and politics reporter for half that time, covering courts and legal affairs before that. She also reported for the now-defunct The Gazette of Politics and Business in Maryland and previously worked as a county government and education reporter at the Merced Sun-Star in California’s Central Valley.