Senate passes bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday

Juneteenth Celebrations And Marches Across America

An attempt to pass the bill a year ago foundered when Senator Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, objected to the cost of adding another federal holiday to the calendar.

Juneteenth commemorates the Union Army's June 16, 1865 declaration in Galveston, Texas that slavery had been outlawed in the United States, liberating America's remaining enslaved African Americans.

While Juneteenth has been celebrated by some Black Americans since the late 1800s, the holiday has gained in popularity in recent years.

"Juneteenth would not be possible if it were not for the courage and determination of former slaves who relentlessly fought for their freedom and dignity".

Ivey's proclamation also comes as Alabama and other southern states continue to grapple with the push to remove monuments to the Confederacy, and rename buildings and schools named in honor of the Confederacy. "But we must continue to work to ensure equal justice and fulfill the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation and our Constitution".

Once the bill passes, it will head to President Joe Biden's desk to be signed into law. It takes just one senator's objection to block such agreements.

The measure was introduced last summer, but Johnson's vocal objections about the cost to taxpayers to pay federal workers for the day off stopped it from passing by unanimous consent.

"While it still seems unusual 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", Johnson said in a statement before Tuesday's vote. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and had 60 co-sponsors. In the decades since, every state but South Dakota came to officially commemorate Juneteenth, but only a handful of states observe it as a paid holiday.

"It has been a state holiday in Texas for more than 40 years", Cornyn tweeted Tuesday afternoon. "It is long past time to make Juneteenth a federal holiday".

Juneteenth is already formally recognized in 47 states as well as Washington D.C., but few states celebrate it as a paid holiday for employees.

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

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