Lawmaker Fights Move to Put Harriet Tubman’s Face on $20 Bill

Photo (cc) by Mike Licht,

It’s full steam ahead for Harriet Tubman and the Treasury Department’s plans to put the former slave and famed abolitionist on the front of the newly redesigned $20 bill, despite a GOP proposal to block the change.

House Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) proposed an amendment to a funding bill for the Treasury Department that would prevent money from being spent to change American currency. King’s amendment was killed by the Rules Committee on Tuesday, preventing it from reaching the floor of Congress, The New York Times reports.

“It’s not about Harriet Tubman, it’s about keeping the picture on the $20,” King said Tuesday evening, according to Politico. King then pulled a $20 bill from his pocket and pointing at President Andrew Jackson. “Y’know? Why would you want to change that? I am a conservative; I like to keep what we have.”

The Treasury Department initially planned to put a woman on a newly designed $10 bill. Then Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced in April that Tubman would be the face of the new $20 bill, which will be unveiled in 2020 — the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote.

Lew’s April announcement came on the heels of a grassroots campaign by the nonprofit Women on 20s to replace Jackson with a woman.

King: Change is ‘racist’ and ‘sexist’

Tubman not only helped lead slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad, she also assisted the Union during the Civil War and later worked as a suffragist, advocating for women’s right to vote.

According to Politico, King said it’s “racist” and “sexist” to push for a woman of color to be featured on U.S. currency.

“Here’s what’s really happening: This is liberal activism on the part of the president that’s trying to identify people by categories, and he’s divided us on the lines of groups. … This is a divisive proposal on the part of the president, and mine’s unifying. It says just don’t change anything.”

Tubman isn’t the only new face that will grace American currency come 2020. The Treasury Department also has plans to feature other women and civil rights leaders on the $5 and $10 notes, the Times reports.

What do you think of King’s attempt to block Tubman from the $20? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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