An effort by Rep. Steve King (R–Iowa) to keep Harriet Tubman off of the $20 bill was rejected by the House Rules Committee on Tuesday night.
King had filed an amendment to a Treasury Department funding bill that would have prevented the redesign of any currency. If the amendment were enacted, it would halt the scheduled replacement of President Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill.
The Rules Committee denied floor consideration of the proposal, meaning Tubman replacing Jackson is still a go.
"It's not about Harriet Tubman," King explained to Politico, pulling a $20 bill from his pocket. "Why would you want to change that? I am a conservative, I like to keep what we have."
Keep in mind who is currently on the front of the $20 bill: Andrew Jackson, a man who was a wealthy slave owner, a supporter of the Indian Removal Act (which forced thousands of Native Americans to be relocated off their land), and one of the biggest expanders of executive power in U.S. history. He should be removed from a place of honor for these things alone, though the new $20 bill actually just moves him to the back along with the White House.
Jackson moreover was a staunch opponent of central banking and its "paper money," which makes it all the more confusing why today's central bank—the Federal Reserve—would put his image on our currency. No one has been able to give an explanation as to why he was selected originally.
Tubman, on the other hand, is well-deserving of the honor. As Reason's Nick Gillespie noted when the new design was announced, she was not only a leader and participant in the Underground Railroad, but also a suffragette and an ardent believer in the right to self-defense. Plus, polls show most Americans agree with the move to put her on the front of the $20 bill.
But King said it is "racist" and "sexist" to say a woman or person of color should be added to currency. It's not clear what group this would be racist or sexist toward, though King added this dense explanation regarding Tubman's addition, according to Politico:
"Here's what's really happening: This is liberal activism on the part of the president that's trying to identify people by categories, and he's divided us on the lines of groups. … This is a divisive proposal on the part of the president, and mine's unifying. It says just don't change anything."
That King called his move to halt the change "unifying" makes no sense, especially considering it was the Republican-controlled Rules Committee that ultimately blocked him.