Why is the Harriet Tubman $20 bill delayed for years? The Treasury Department's internal watchdog will investigate

By Jason Silverstein

/ CBS News

The Treasury Department's inspector general will investigate why the Harriet Tubman $20 bill — which was set to debut in 2020 — has been delayed for years under the Trump administration.

In a letter to Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, who had requested an investigation, Acting Inspector General Rich Delmar said the office will look into the Tubman bill as part of a review of designs and security features for U.S. currency. Delmar said this would include interviews with "stakeholders involved in the new note design process," including senior officials with the Treasury and Secret Service.

Schumer had also asked Delmar to look into whether the White House was involved in the delay.

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"If, in the course of our audit work, we discover indications of employee misconduct or other matters that warrant a referral to our Office of Investigations, we will do so expeditiously," Delmar wrote.

He said the investigation will take about 10 months.

In a statement responding to Delmar's letter, Schumer said, "There are no women, there are no people of color on our paper currency today, even though they make up a significant majority of our population. And the previous administration's plan to put New Yorker Harriet Tubman on the $20 note was a long overdue way to recognize that disparity and rectify it."

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin revealed last month that the resigned $20 bill with Harriet Tubman's face will not be released by the Trump administration, even though it had been planned for years. The Tubman $20 bill was set to debut in 2020, timed for the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Tubman would replace President Andrew Jackson, who is often praised by President Trump.

In a hearing with the House Financial Services Committee, Mnuchin said the Tubman redesign wouldn't be printed for nearly a decade. But he did not give a reason for the delay or why it would take so long. "I'm not focused on that for the moment," Mnuchin said in the hearing.

The Treasury Department had said in April 2016, under the Obama administration, that it would work on producing the new bill "as soon as possible."

First published on June 24, 2019 / 4:03 PM

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