“Ultimately, we’ll be looking at this issue,” Mnuchin said during an interview on CNBC. “It’s not something that I’m focused on at the moment.”
Mnuchin said “the number one issue” the Treasury Department is concerned with is preventing the counterfeiting of U.S. currency, adding that any potential changes to denominations are “primarily related” to security concerns.
Asked about the cultural significance of persons who appear on U.S. notes, Mnuchin demurred once more.
“This is something we’ll consider,” he said. “Right now we have a lot more important issues to focus on.”
Jack Lew, who served as Treasury secretary under President Barack Obama’s administration, announced the planned change to the front of the $20 bill in April 2016. He said the back of the bill would feature an image of the White House as well as an image of Jackson, the nation’s seventh president.
Lew also announced that the movement to give women the right to vote would be featured on the back of the $10 bill and that the designs of the new bills would be revealed by 2020, marking the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.
“I think Harriet Tubman is fantastic, but I would love to leave Andrew Jackson or see if we can maybe come up with another denomination,” he said.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) responded to Mnuchin’s comment Thursday, tweeting that he should “commit to this popular effort that has bipartisan support.”
Women on 20s, the nonprofit campaign leading the push to put a woman on the $20 by 2020, said it was “confident” that Mnuchin would discover that changing the face of the bill is in the nation’s best interest.
“Security is mostly embodied in the advanced innovations in paper and ink that our money is printed on, not in the faces we choose to honor,” said Barbara Ortiz Howard, the group’s founder. “Including women on our currency can enhance our standing as a nation by bringing us together instead of tearing us apart.”
A Treasury Department spokesperson did not elaborate on Mnuchin’s comments, noting that an updated $20 bill isn’t scheduled to be in circulation until 2026 at the earliest.
This story has been updated with a response from a Treasury Department spokesperson.