June 14, 2019
The preliminary design for an updated $20 bill featuring Harriet Tubman was leaked on Friday after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced last month that a redesign will be delayed until 2028.
The bill had had extensive work on it before the announcement, according to The New York Times.
An image of the new bill produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and obtained by the Times from a former Treasury Department official depicts Tubman in a dark coat with a wide collar and a white scarf.
The design was reportedly completed in late 2016. The Obama administration had set a 2020 deadline for finishing the design before Mnuchin pushed that deadline back.
A spokeswoman for the bureau, Lydia Washington, confirmed to the Times that preliminary designs of the new note were created as part of research that was done after Jacob Lew, former President Obama’s final Treasury secretary, proposed the idea of a Tubman bill.
President Andrew Jackson is now on the $20 bill, and Mnuchin's decision was widely seen as a move to appease President Trump, who has praised Jackson and denounced removing his image from the bill as “pure political correctness.”
Mnuchin has said preventing counterfeiting is the reason for the delay.
"The primary reason we’ve looked at redesigning the currency is for counterfeiting issues,” Mnuchin said in May. “Based upon this, the $20 bill will now not come out until 2028. The $10 and the $50 will come out with new features beforehand.”
Mnuchin added that it is “his responsibility” to focus on anti-counterfeiting and security features for other notes, and the decision on whether to change the imagery on the $20 bill isn't likely to happen until 2026.
“The ultimate decision on the redesign will most likely be another secretary’s down the road,” he said.
Trump had suggested that Tubman could be featured on a new $2 bill.
"Andrew Jackson had a great history, and I think it's very rough when you take somebody off the bill," Trump said in 2016.
Current and former Treasury Department officials told the Times that Mnuchin chose the delay to avoid the possibility that Trump would cancel the plan outright and create even more controversy.
“Let me assure you, this speculation that we’ve slowed down the process is just not the case,” Mnuchin told the Times.
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