House GOP Will Not Support Move to Keep Harriet Tubman Off $20 Bill

Republican Steve King called the decision to put Tubman on currency "racist" and "sexist."

By Lydia Goerner Published on June 23, 2016

The House GOP will not vote on Congressman Steve King’s proposed amendment that would stop the U.S. Treasury Department from putting abolitionist Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill. King said that saying a woman or person of color should be on currency is “racist” and “sexist.”

The Iowa Republican’s proposed legislation would bar the Treasury Department from using funds to redesign currency.

King said his objection to changing the bill is not about Harriet Tubman, but about keeping the $20 bill the same, Politico reported.

“Why would you want to change that?” King asked as he pulled a $20 bill from his pocket and pointed to Jackson. “I am a conservative, I like to keep what we have.”

King said redesigning the bill is “liberal activism” from President Obama and that he is trying to “identify people by categories.”

But Jason Jones and John Zmirak have touted Tubman as “a devout Christian Republican gun-owner who flouted evil Supreme Court decisions and unjust federal laws.”

What we should love about the choice of Harriet Tubman is the precedent it sets. As a nation, we’re willing to say that someone who flouted our country’s solemnly unjust laws — such as the Fugitive Slave Act, which Tubman condemned and helped hundreds of escaped slaves to evade — will someday be honored as a hero, if only after more than a century has shown us the profound evil which our own institutions enabled and blessed.

The House Rules committee evidently agrees, as it will not consider the proposed amendment, according to CBS News.

Steve King said that “[t]his is a divisive proposal on the part of the president, and mine’s unifying. It says just don’t change anything.”

King said that with the redesign, Obama is attempting to “do everything he can think of to upset this society and this civilization.”

The Atlantic claimed that sentiment “rings false.”

“It’s predicated on a notion of America built entirely by white men like, well, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and Andrew Jackson,” The Atlantic article reads. “…People of African descent have been part of the United States for as long as it has existed, and in fact back to the beginnings of colonization. The modern United States would not exist without the contributions of people of color…Insisting that cash can’t be changed to reflect that mixed heritage amounts to defending white male supremacy as the fictitious narrative of the nation.”

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has also spoken out against the currency redesigning, calling it “pure political correctness,” according to NBC News.

“I think Harriet Tubman is fantastic,” Trump said in an interview on NBC‘s Today Show. “I would love to — I would love to leave Andrew Jackson and see if we can maybe come up with another denomination. Maybe we do the $2 bill or we do another bill.”

As The Atlantic put it, King “isn’t the first white man to try and fail to stop Harriet Tubman, and he probably won’t be the last.”

The Treasury Department announced it would replace Andrew Jackson with Tubman on the $20 bill two months ago.

According to The Huffington Post, the department had previously considered redesigning the $10 bill, which features Alexander Hamilton. The popularity of the musical “Hamilton” changed their plans and led to the redesign of the $20 bill.

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