Society

Amendment Aims To Block Harriet Tubman On $20 Bill

| by Jordan Smith
Harriet Tubman on the $20 billHarriet Tubman on the $20 bill

A congressman from Iowa has introduced an amendment to prevent the Treasury from putting abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. A House committee has since shot down the measure.

Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa's 4th District presented the motion, which would block the Treasury from using funds to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill, according to the Des Moines Register. Jackson was the seventh President of the United States.

King’s move has angered some, including his challenger in the November election, Democrat Kim Weaver.

"Iowans have four representatives in the United States House of Representatives, and unfortunately one of them seems to maintain a laser focus on where his next headline-grabbing piece of stunt legislation will come from," Weaver said in a statement, the Register reported. "What will this amendment do for residents of Iowa’s 4th District? Nothing. How will it make the lives of his constituents better? It won’t. And what chance does this meaningless and mean-spirited gesture have of actually passing? Just like most measures introduced by Steve King, none."

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King’s amendment would also mean that the Treasury could not implement new security features to combat counterfeiting, or designs to make notes accessible to blind and partially sighted people.

Jackson has faced criticism over his treatment of Native Americans. He introduced legislation which forcibly moved many tribes from their traditional lands.

Others see the move to replace Jackson with Tubman as highly symbolic given that the president was a slaveowner whereas Tubman was born into slavery before escaping. She was later a Union spy during the Civil War and helped slaves escape.

The planned changes were announced by Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew in April. He intends for the Tubman designs to be ready by 2020 and for the notes to enter circulation later that decade, The New York Times reported.

A spokeswoman for King said a statement would be released soon on the amendment, the Register noted.

But Weaver said there are more important things her Republican rival should focus on.

“Tuition costs are rising and graduating students are suffocating under oppressive student loan debt,” she said, according to the Register. “Seniors are struggling to make ends meet and retire in dignity. Wages for working class Iowans continue to stagnate. And Steve King is waging a one-man war against putting the first African American woman on U.S. currency.”

On the night of June 21, the House Rules Committee voted to deny the amendment a floor vote, essentially killing the motion.

Sources: Des Moines Register, The New York Times / Photo credit: Mike Licht/Flickr

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