Congress Approves Bill to Make Juneteenth a Federal Holiday (UPDATE)

The legislation was unanimously passed Tuesday, just days before Juneteenth. The holiday celebrates the emancipation of formerly enslaved African Americans.




UPDATED 6/16, 8:25 p.m. ET: Juneteenth is another step closer to becoming a federal holiday.

Just a day after the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill designating June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day, the House passed the legislation in a 415-14 vote. The lawmakers who opposed the bill were all Republicans: Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin, Doug LaMalfa of California, Tom McClintock of California, Mike Rogers of Alabama, Matt Rosendale of Montana, Ronny Jackson of Texas, Ralph Norman of South Carolina, Andrew Clyde of Georgia, Chip Roy of Texas, and Paul Gosar of Arizona.

The bill is now headed to President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign it into law.

See the original story below.

The United States Senate has unanimously passed a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.

According to ABC News, the bipartisan legislation was approved Tuesday afternoon, just hours after Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) announced he would drop his objection to the bill. The GOP lawmaker blocked a similar resolution in 2020, citing concerns over the measure’s cost.

“While it still seems strange that having taxpayers provide federal employees paid time off is now required to celebrate the end of slavery, it is clear that there is no appetite in Congress to further discuss the matter,” Johnson said, as reported by the State Journal. “Therefore, I do not intend to object.”

Juneteenth, which will be celebrated this Saturday, memorializes the day that formerly enslaved African Americans in Texas learned about their freedom. They received the news on June 19, 1865, more than two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Texas was the first to recognize Juneteenth as a holiday in 1980; since then, 48 other states and the District of Columbia have passed similar measures establishing the day as a state or ceremonial holiday. South Dakota is the only one that has yet to do so.

Texas GOP Sen. John Cornyn, the lead sponsor of the bill, celebrated its passage via Twitter on Tuesday:

The bill will now go to the U.S. House of Representatives for approval. If passed, it will then go to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

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