King amendment would have had unintended consequences

Coin World managing editor William T. Gibbs reports that actions sometimes have unintended consequences. He reports that an effort by a congressman from Iowa to prevent Harriet Tubman from being placed on the $20 note could have stopped Treasury efforts to make U.S. paper money harder to counterfeit, among other results.

Full video transcript:

Good morning. This is William T. Gibbs with Coin World's Monday Morning Brief. 

Actions sometimes have unintended results. That could have been the case had an amendment introduced at Congress by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, become law.

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King wanted to modify the boilerplate text in a routine Treasury appropriations bill that routinely, normally forbids the federal government from spending any money to redesign the $1 bill. Now Treasury officials have long said there are no plans to redesign the denomination. It would not be cost-effective to upgrade the $1 bill's anti-counterfeiting technology.

What King wanted to do, however, was to modify that legislation to prevent the government from spending money on redesigning any Federal Reserve note or any coin. King's motive was to prevent moving Andrew Jackson's portrait from the face of the $20 bill and replacing it with a portrait of famed abolitionist leader Harriet Tubman. He has said that he thinks putting Tubman on the note is inappropriate, sexist and racist. 

That was his goal. The unintended results, however, would have been much, much more

One, had the measure been implemented, it could have prevented the Treasury Department from spending any money on improving the anti-counterfeiting technology used on U.S. paper money. It could have also prevented the government from complying with a 2008 federal court ruling requiring that U.S. paper money be made accessible to the blind and visually impaired. It also would have derailed plans to redesign the $5 and $10 bills to make them more diverse by honoring leaders of the Civil Rights and Women's Suffrage movements.

On the evening of June 21, however, the House Rules Committee stopped King's amendment by denying it to be moved to the House floor for a vote. So the Treasury Department can continue with its initiatives of upgrading anti-counterfeiting technology and complying with the federal court ruling. 

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