Senate approves Juneteenth as federal holiday after Sen. Johnson drops objection

Senate approves Juneteenth as federal holiday after Sen. Johnson drops objection

Senate approves Juneteenth as federal holiday after Sen. Johnson drops objection

Senate lawmakers approved a bill Tuesday that would establish Juneteenth as a federal holiday after Sen.

The bill is expected to pass the House after the Senate unanimously passed the legislation Tuesday. Then-president Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation two years earlier.

Juneteenth commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free.

In 1980, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth a holiday, and now the vast majority of states recognize the day. "But we must continue to work to ensure equal justice and fulfill the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation and our Constitution".

The House is expected to vote Wednesday on legislation that would establish June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day, a U.S. federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

Had any senator objected, the bill would have been scheduled for debate, miring the proposal in a legislative timetable that is already chock-full with Biden administration priorities, such as infrastructure and voting rights. Johnson was the lone senator to object to the legislation, arguing in July 2020 that the bill would place an undue burden on taxpayers by requiring them to fund another paid holiday for federal employees.

Senate approves Juneteenth as federal holiday after Sen. Johnson drops objection
Senate approves Juneteenth as federal holiday after Sen. Johnson drops objection

"While it still seems unusual that having taxpayers provide federal employees paid time off is not required to celebrate the end of slavery, it is clear that there is no appetite in Congress to further discuss the matter", he added.

The bill was only able to pass after Sen. Alabama also recognizes the state holidays of Confederate Memorial Day, celebrated in April, and Robert E. Lee's birthday, celebrated the same day as Martin Luther King Jr. Day. "It is long past time to make Juneteenth a federal holiday".

Juneteenth began as a holiday in the State of Texas and is now celebrated in cities and states throughout the country as a special day of observance in recognition of the emancipation of all slaves in the United States.

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza has officially declared Juneteenth an official paid holiday for city employees.

Under the legislation, the federal holiday would be known as Juneteenth National Independence Day.

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