George Washington may want to watch his back.
Representatives Barbara Lee (D–Calif.) and Bruce Poliquin (R–Maine) proposed legislation to implement a commemorative quarter collection honoring women, similar to the current one that honors each state. The bill, introduced during Women’s History Month, wants to see the U.S. Mint produce quarter coins featuring the likeness of female icons selected by all 50 states, five U.S. territories, and Washington, D.C. It would ask the governor or chief official in each state or territory to liaise with local women’s organizations to decide on one woman to pick. The bill says that no living Americans can appear on coins, so the featured women must be deceased.
Lee told CNNMoney that the collection would honor “unsung” female heroes whose “accomplishments haven’t been recognized.”
Harriet Tubman on the U.S. $20
Lee reportedly worked with ex-Treasurer Rosie Rios to write the legislation. Rios was a force behind the push to get a woman’s face on the $10 bill, an effort under the Obama Administration that ultimately resulted in plans for Harriet Tubman to replace the seventh U.S. president Andrew Jackson on the $20 note. The Trump administration has thrown those plans into question, with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying it wasn’t a priority. As recently as January, he said his department hadn’t “made any decisions on whether we will change the bill or won’t change the bill.”
Women on money in Canada, Britain
Beyond U.S.’s tentative $20 revamp, the idea for women on the U.S. quarter comes amid a flurry of efforts worldwide to put more female figures on currency. Earlier this month, Canada unveiled a $10 Canadian dollar featuring a portrait of the late Viola Desmond, a civil rights advocate who was jailed for sitting in the wrong section of a movie theater. She’s the first Canadian woman to appear on the country’s currency. In July, on the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, the Bank of England has revealed a £10 note featuring her image. The author is the only woman besides Queen Elizabeth II to appear on England and Wales’ currency.
If Lee and Poliquin’s bill becomes law, the first U.S. quarters featuring women could enter circulation by 2021.