The announcement that Black abolitionist and women’s suffragist Harriet Tubman would be replacing former president Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill was met with much joy and excitement. Finally, a woman — an African-American woman — would be featured on a piece of U.S. currency.
But a Republican congressman from Iowa isn’t a fan of the change.
According to The Huffington Post, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) filed legislation Monday that would bar the U.S. Treasury Department from putting Tubman on the $20 bill. King’s amendment would prevent the treasury department from spending any money on the redesign of paper money and coins. If the legislation is approved, the treasury’s plans to replace Andrew Jackson with Tubman on the $20 note would be nullified, the news site reports.
Congressman King is known for his anti-immigration rhetoric in Washington, D.C., so his latest incursion on breaking the tradition of white men on U.S. currency isn’t all that surprising. According to Politico, King has deemed the Tubman bill “racist” and “sexist” as the treasury continues to push for women and persons of color to be featured on U.S. money.
“Here’s what’s really happening: This is liberal activism on the part of the president that’s trying to identify people by categories, and he’s divided us on the lines of groups,” King said. “…This is a divisive proposal on the part of the president, and mine’s unifying. It says just don’t change anything.”
Per the Huffington Post, the Iowa representative hopes the bill will be part of a broader amendment controlling the treasury department’s overall funding. The bill seeks to authorize all spending by the department, including the salaries and expenses of the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.
The treasury department declared its plans to swap former president Jackson for the legendary Underground Railroad conductor back in April. It was originally planned that Tubman would replace Alexander Hamilton on the face of the $10, but the wildly successful Broadway musical donning his name prompted the department to scrap the idea. Instead, Tubman would be the new face of the $20 note.
According to Atlanta Black Star, redesigns of the $5 and $10 bills are in the works as well. While former president Abraham Lincoln will remain on the front of the $5 note, civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. will be featured on the back, along with world-renowned opera singer Marion Anderson and former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt. Changes being made to the $10 bill will commemorate the history of the women’s suffrage movement, according to the treasury department’s website.
In the months following the department’s announcement that Tubman would appear on the newly designed bill, fellow Republicans Donald Trump and former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) have come forward to defend Jackson’s likeness on the $20 bill.
Trump called the move to replace Jackson “pure political correctness” and suggested that Tubman be placed on the $2 bill instead, Politico reports.
“I don’t like seeing it. Yes, I think it’s pure political correctness,” the presumptive GOP presidential nominee said. “[Andrew Jackson has] been on the bill for many, many years and really represented — somebody that was really very important to this country. I would love to see another denomination, and that could take place. I think it would be more appropriate.”
Per The New York Times, the redesigned currency will not debut until 2020. Meanwhile, it’s too early to say whether King’s bill will gain any traction.