Despite numerous liberal politicians and pundits excoriating the Trump administration for delaying the Harriet Tubman $20 bill, former Obama administration officials recently revealed there was no actual delay.
The Trump administration announced in May that it would not replace President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill with Tubman by the 2020 deadline announced by the Obama administration. "The primary reason we've looked at redesigning the currency is for counterfeiting issues. Based upon this, the $20 bill will now not come out until 2028," Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin explained during a congressional hearing.
The "delay" was blasted by a number of high-profile Democratic politicians, including Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who called it "unnecessary" and "an insult to the hopes of millions."
It is an insult to the hopes of millions that the Trump Administration is refusing to honor Harriet Tubman on our $20 bill. This unnecessary decision must be reversed.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) June 20, 2019
The Treasury Department had designs to place Harriet Tubman on the $20 in the works. The Admin's decision to delay this honor is unacceptable. I urge my colleagues to support my bill, the Harriet Tubman Tribute Act, to ensure Harriet Tubman is included on the $20 by 2020. https://t.co/UVHqW2vWto
— Elijah E. Cummings (@RepCummings) June 14, 2019
There are no women or people of color on our paper currency today, and there haven’t been for more than a century. The plan to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 note was a long overdue way to rectify that disparity. https://t.co/znLBjoqweQ
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) June 20, 2019
But an investigation from the Washington Post found that while the Obama administration publicly claimed the Tubman bill would be ready in 2020, internally the Treasury Department recognized that deadline would not actually be met.
"A confidential 2013 report by the Advanced Counterfeit Deterrence committee, an interagency group that oversees the redesign of U.S. currency, said the $20 bill would not enter circulation until 2030, similar to the timeline announced by the Trump administration..." the Post reported. Two Obama-appointed officials also confirmed on background that the actual plan was for the bill was closer to a 2030 release.
Obama-era Bureau of Engraving and Printing Director Larry R. Felix told the Post that the public promises of the bill being ready in 2020 "were not grounded in reality. The U.S. had not at the time acquired the security features to redesign and protect the notes." He says he told officials as early as 2015 that the deadline would have to be pushed back.
Current Bureau of Engraving and Printing Director Leonard R. Olijar was also appointed by President Barack Obama. "BEP was never going to unveil a note design in 2020," he said in a statement. "No Bureau or Department official has 'scrapped' anything."