As of this Wednesday, the House passed new legislation establishing June 19 as a national holiday, otherwise known as Juneteenth. This new US federal holiday commemorates the end of slavery in this country. The bill was sent to Joe Biden for him to sign.
The Senate passed the legislation unanimously this past Tuesday with a 415-14 vote. The 14 Republicans who voted against the proposed bill included Mo Brooks of Alabama, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee, Doug LaMalfa of California, Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin, Matt Rosendale of Montana, Mike Rogers of Alabama, Andrew Clyde of Georgia, Ralph Norman of South Carolina, Paul Gosar of Arizona, and Chip Roy of Texas.
Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, a conservative, originally blocked the bill back in 2020.
“Last year, a bill was introduced to celebrate Juneteenth by providing an additional paid holiday for 2 million federal employees at a cost of $600 million per year,” Johnson said in a statement. “They attempted to pass the bill without debate or amendment process. Although I strongly support celebrating Emancipation, I objected to the cost and lack of debate.”
However, despite some of his concerns, he let go of his rejection this past week, allowing the bill to move out of the chamber.
“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. Therefore, I do not intend to object,” he said.
Steny Hoyer, House Majority Leader, announced in a tweet that the House would vote on the bill on Wednesday. In the tweet, he thanked a few bipartisan bill sponsors, including Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas, Democratic Representative Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, and Democratic Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts.