President Biden’s Treasury Department is studying ways to speed up the process of adding Harriet Tubman’s portrait to the front of the $20 bill after the Trump administration allowed the Obama-era initiative to lapse, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said on Monday.
The decision to have Ms. Tubman replace Andrew Jackson as the face of the $20 note was set in motion in 2016 by the Treasury secretary at the time, Jacob Lew. President Donald J. Trump opposed the idea, and his Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, stopped work on that part of the currency redesign, arguing that adding new security features to the money was a more urgent priority. Mr. Mnuchin said that notes with new imagery could not be put into circulation until 2028 and that a future Treasury secretary would make the call whether to replace Jackson.
The Treasury Department, which Mr. Biden has nominated Janet L. Yellen to lead, plans to accelerate that timeline.
“The Treasury Department is taking steps to resume efforts to put Harriet Tubman on the front of the new $20 notes,” Ms. Psaki said. “It’s important that our money reflect the history and diversity of our country.”
A Treasury spokeswoman said that she had no information to share on when a new design of the $20 bill might be released.
Mr. Trump professed to be a fan of Andrew Jackson, a fellow populist, and was a fierce opponent of altering historical images and statues.
Mr. Mnuchin’s decision to slow-walk the change drew backlash from some Democrats in Congress and triggered a probe from the Treasury inspector general about whether the process faced improper political interference. The inquiry found no wrongdoing by Mr. Mnuchin.
Under Mr. Lew’s plan, the new design was supposed to be unveiled in 2020 on the centennial of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote.
Preliminary designs of the note that were obtained by The New York Times revealed that — before Mr. Trump took office — conceptual work on a bill bearing Tubman’s likeness on the front and a statue of Jackson on the back was already underway.