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Politics and Government

New York representatives rally for Harriet Tubman $20 bill

Payne R Horning
WRVO News File Photo
Michele Jones Galvin, the great, great, great grandniece of Harriet Tubman, talks about the importance of honorring her ancestor on the nation's currency.

Several members of New York's Congressional delegation are expressing concern over comments from the nation's treasury secretary about the proposed Harriet Tubman $20 bill.

During a recent interview with CNBC, Secretary Steve Mnuchin said he will consider putting the famed underground railroad conductor on the $20, but it's not a priority at this time. That's a reversal from 2016 when former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew committed the U.S. to putting Tubman on the bill.

Sen. Charles Schumer said the comments made "absolutely no sense" to halt that plan.

"I strongly urge the U.S. Department of Treasury to get back on track and rightfully commemorate Tubman’s life and commitment to the freedom and equality that we cherish as a nation," Schumer said in a statement.

Rep. John Katko (R-Camillus) said he sent a letter to Mnuchin, noting that Congress recently designated her home in Auburn, New York, as a National Park.

"The city of Auburn continually looks for ways to preserve her extraordinary life’s work," Katko wrote in a letter to the treasury secretary. "Her life has inspired countless individuals and continues to be a beacon of hope and unity for many. It is only fitting that we honor this American hero by memorializing her likeness on the $20 bill."

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who sponsored the legislation to designate the Auburn site, says Congress probably could stop the Trump administration if they don't place her on the bill.

“If they do try to unwind it, we will try to make - fix it through Congressional action,” Gillibrand said. 

Katko was an author of legislation in 2015 that would have required the Treasury Department to enshrine Tubman on one of the country's currency notes.