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Treasury Secretary Mnuchin Says Harriet Tubman $20 Bill Will Be Delayed

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Back in 2016 came a big announcement from the Treasury Department.

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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The United States currency is in for the first changes in a long time.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

It involved several bills, most notably, the 20. President Andrew Jackson's face would be replaced by that of abolitionist Harriet Tubman. Here's then-Treasury Secretary Jack Lew talking about the decision on "PBS NewsHour."

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JACK LEW: The story of Harriet Tubman means a lot to people of all ages in this country, and it speaks to something very important about American democracy.

KELLY: Tubman would be the first woman since Martha Washington to appear on a U.S. bill and the first ever African-American. Now, this was all supposed to happen next year.

CORNISH: The plan was not without its critics. Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump said shortly after the announcement that he thought Harriet Tubman was fantastic, but...

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PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: I don't like seeing it. Yes. I think it's pure political correctness.

KELLY: Then in 2017, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin walked back the Obama administration's plans.

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STEVEN MNUCHIN: People have been on the bills for a long period of time. This is something we'll consider. Right now, we've got a lot more important issues to focus on.

CORNISH: This week, it was confirmed. The 2020 debut date for the Harriet Tubman bill would not happen. When Secretary Mnuchin was questioned about it, he responded that anti-counterfeiting matters were his top priority.

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MNUCHIN: Based upon this, the $20 bill will now not come out until 2028.

KELLY: But if you just can't wait until 2028, you might be in luck. New York-based artist Dano Wall has been making rubber stamps with Harriet Tubman's face on them. The image fits perfectly over Andrew Jackson's face for a do-it-yourself redesign.

CORNISH: The Tubman stamps sold out completely this week. Wall says more are on the way. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.