Rep. Pressley Demands Answers from Mnuchin on Currency Redesign

June 6, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON  – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin demanding specific information on his department’s decision to drastically delay the redesign of the $20 bill and other U.S. bank notes first announced by his predecessor, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew. The letter comes in response to Secretary Mnuchin’s response to Congresswoman Pressley during a Financial Services Committee hearing in which the Secretary admitted to the Congresswoman that he had no intention of carrying out the currency redesign timeline put forth by Secretary Lew, which would feature  American icon Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill by 2020.

“On May 22, 2019, you sat before the House Financial Services Committee and indicated that you believe that representation matters — both within American politics and our imagery,” wrote Congresswoman Pressley. “You also agreed that people other than white men have greatly contributed to this country and to its history. However, these two acknowledgements are in direct contradiction with your refusal to carry out the redesign timeline set forth by your predecessor, former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, which would include Harriet Tubman on the front of the redesigned $20 bill.”

During last month’s Financial Services Committee hearing entitled "The Annual Testimony of the Secretary of the Treasury on the State of the International Financial System - Part II," Congresswoman Pressley got Secretary Mnuchin on the record about the currency redesign schedule for the first time since he took office.

Congresswoman Pressley’s full letter to Secretary Mnuchin can be found here and below:

 

The Honorable Steven Mnuchin

Secretary

U.S. Department of the Treasury

1500 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20220

 

Dear Secretary Mnuchin:

I am writing today to both request further information on your agency’s decision to postpone the redesign of the $20 bank note and a formal, specific timeline of the redesign process as it pertains to all American bank notes.

On May 22, 2019, you sat before the House Financial Services Committee and indicated that you believe that representation matters – both within American politics and our imagery. You also agreed that people other than white men have greatly contributed to this country and to its history. However, these two acknowledgements are in direct contradiction with your refusal to carry out the redesign timeline set forth by your predecessor, former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, which would include Harriet Tubman on the front of the redesigned $20 bill.

Additionally, your agency’s deliberate removal of the ModernMoney.Treasury.gov website, which was created by your predecessor to give a detailed account of the redesign process, further proves your agency’s profound unwillingness to engage in transparent and cooperative governance with the American public.

Mr. Secretary, representation matters to the American people. Secretary Lew launched a massive public campaign to solicit suggestions as to who should be featured on our currency - hosting roundtables at American history museums, townhalls at local state and community colleges, and collecting letters and emails – resulting in over a million responses. After 10-months of data collection, the American people overwhelmingly voted in favor of featuring Harriet Tubman - an American icon, hero and patriot - on one of the most commonly circulated bank notes in our economy – the American $20 bill. In his open letter, Secretary Lew stated: “After more than 100 years, we cannot delay, so the next bill to be redesigned must include women, who for too long have been absent from our currency.” I could not agree more. The 2018 midterm elections are clear evidence that our democracy is not truly representative until it proudly includes women and people of color in American government and in American symbols, such as our currency.

Following the announcement, Secretary Lew directed the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) to accelerate plans for the redesign, aligning the final design concepts with the 100-year anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. Furthermore, Secretary Lew and Former Treasurer Rosie Rios confirmed that changes to our currency manufacturing process, including the development of tactile features for the visually impaired, had already been tested and approved prior to the Trump Administration taking office, allowing the BEP to expedite the production of new bank notes. However, since Secretary Lew’s departure, the Treasury Department under your failed leadership has refused to update our currency to be more historically accurate nor to be inclusive of visually impaired Americans.

During the hearing before the House Financial Services Committee earlier this month, you stated, “The primary reason that we looked to redesign currency is for counterfeiting issues. Based upon this, the twenty-dollar bill will now not come out until 2028. The ten-dollar bill and the fifty-dollar bill will come out with new features before then.” In order to ensure transparency (or lack thereof) surrounding the Treasury Department’s redesign process, and your agency’s efforts to protect American bank notes from counterfeiting, I respectfully request responses to the following questions by close of business on July 1, 2019: 

  1. Please provide specific detail about your Agency’s decision and rationale to postpone the release and circulation of the $20 redesign, including:
    • The date in which your agency decided to formally postpone the redesign;
    • The cause of the currency redesign delay as compared to the timeline put forth by your predecessor
    • Any internal memos from the Treasury Department to the BEP regarding the redesign process
  2. A detailed explanation on the removal of the ModernMoney.treasury.gov website and all associated resources detailing the extensive public comment process which informed the redesign, including the exact date in which the website was removed;
  3. A thorough and specific timeline outlining your agency’s redesign schedule for each of our bank notes: the $1, the $5, the $10, the $20, the $50 and the $100, as it relates to when they are due for security redesign.

I look forward to your response and appreciate your attention to this matter.

 

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