July 2, 2019
Newsweek: Treasury Department Bucks Deadline for Providing Details On Harriet Tubman $20 Bill Decision
The Treasury Department did not meet Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley’s deadline for providing documents related to her probe of the department’s decision to leave Harriet Tubman off the $20 bill.
Per a June 6 letter from Pressley to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the department had until July 1 to provide her with documents concerning the department’s reversal of an Obama-era decision to redesign the $20 bill with Tubman instead of its current occupant, Andrew Jackson, one of President Donald Trump’s favorite predecessors.
The department did not meet Monday’s deadline, Pressley’s communications director Lina Francis told Newsweek.
On May 22, Mnuchin announced that the planned redesign of the $20 bill would be put on hold and that his department would instead focus on implementing new security features by 2020. Pressley’s June letter requested that the secretary provide her office with “specific detail” about the decision-making process that led to the cancellation of Obama administration Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s public campaign to feature a woman on a bill of U.S. currency.
The letter requested that, by July 1, Mnuchin inform Pressley about his department’s “decision and rationale” to delay Tubman’s appearance on the bill. Pressley specified the “date” the decision was made, the “cause” for the delay and any “internal memos” related to the decision as information her office was seeking.
In addition to the redesign itself, Pressley wanted information about Mnuchin’s apparent cancellation of ModernMoney.Treasury.gov, a website established by Lew to inform the public about the redesign campaign. The Modern Money site is now defunct and redirects to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.
Francis said that Treasury informed Pressley’s office it could not meet Monday’s deadline because it was still ascertaining exactly how the Modern Money website was taken offline.
“They stated that they will try to get us a response this week or next week, but gave no firm commitments,” Francis told Newsweek.
The New York Times has reported that at least one senior Treasury official believes the decision was made to mollify Trump and his self-professed disdain for the original redesign plans. On the 2016 campaign trail, Trump called Tubman’s selection “pure political correctness.”
“Andrew Jackson had a great history, and I think it’s very rough when you take somebody off the bill,” Trump said at the time. Critics of Jackson point to his role in the infamous Trail of Tears, a forced relocation of Cherokee people that resulted in the deaths of 5,000 men, women and children, as one of several disqualifying incidents for the honor of appearing on U.S. currency.
According to the Times, delaying Andrew Jackson’s replacement until 2028 could serve enough to appease the president so that he doesn’t order Mnuchin to scrap the plans entirely.