On the first day of the Biden presidency, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said that the Treasury Department was “taking steps to resume efforts” to put the abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. “It’s important that our money reflects the history and diversity of our country,” Ms. Psaki said.
But it will probably be years before we see the Underground Railroad conductor gracing U.S. currency, the DealBook newsletter reports.
The reason? The deadline for printing a new version of the $20 bill is 2030. It was set by an anti-counterfeiting committee in 2013, two years before Tubman won a campaign to replace President Andrew Jackson on the bill.
“The primary reason currency is redesigned is for security against counterfeiting,” Lydia Washington, a representative for the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, told DealBook. “The redesign timeline is driven by security feature development.”
The Obama administration said that a design “concept” would be unveiled by 2020, to coincide with the centennial of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Extensive redesign work was reportedly done, but in 2019, President Donald J. Trump’s Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, said the project would be delayed until at least 2026. (Insiders said they had always doubted that the 2020 deadline could be met).
It turns out that the complex design and testing process for currency cannot be hurried. “No final images have been selected,” Ms. Washington said. The Treasury Department did not respond to a request for comment.
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