The Senate will consider whether to support a campaign to put a woman on the $20 bill, after Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) introduced a measure that would require the Treasury to "convene a panel of citizens" to discuss the idea.
Shaheen announced the introduction of the bill Wednesday. "Our paper currency is an important part of our everyday lives and reflects our values, traditions and history as Americans,” she said in a statement. "It’s long overdue for that reflection to include the contributions of women. The incredible grassroots support for this idea shows that there’s strong support for a woman to be the new face of the $20 bill.”
If passed, the committee created by Shaheen's bill would then advise the Secretary of the Treasury on its findings. The senator's office said the bill is a "complement" to a grassroots campaign that raised the issue of women on currency earlier this year.
The campaign, called "Women on 20's," has been asking supporters to vote for the woman they'd most like to see replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. From a list of 15 selected by the organization, the field has narrowed down to four finalists: Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks and Wilma Mankiller, the first female chief of the Cherokee Nation.
In all, the group says that more than 223,000 people voted in the final round, with more than 480,000 participants taking part in both rounds.
The original list of 15 included Rachel Carson, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, and Alice Paul (the full list is here). If the Treasury decided to consider the issue, Women on 20's is hoping that its selections -- and the votes from the campaign -- will be taken into consideration.
While the campaign helped spark a national discussion, only the Treasury can actually change whose face appears on the $20 bill. The campaign, executive director Susan Ades Stone explained to The Post, initially aimed to encourage the White House to ask the Treasury Department to consider the change.
Now, Ades Stone said in a statement, the group is aiming to collect enough votes to "make sure that the mandate is overwhelming" when the campaign is brought to President Obama.
For his part, Obama has been receptive to the idea.
"Last week, a young girl wrote to ask me why aren't there any women on our currency," the president said in a July speech in Kansas City. "And then she gave me like a long list of possible women to put on our dollar bills and quarters and stuff -- which I thought was a pretty good idea."
This, by the way, is the letter that inspired Obama to comment on the idea of putting a woman's portrait on American currency:
The author of the letter -- a 9-year-old by the name of Sofia -- wrote the president independently of Women on 20's, but she is now helping the organization's campaign.
The last time the Treasury Department made substantial changes to the portraits on U.S. paper money was in 1928, when Jackson earned his now-contested spot on the $20 bill. He replaced another former president, Grover Cleveland.
After it was introduced, Shaheen's bill was referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.
[This post has been updated multiple times.]