By: Alyssa Wilson
UPDATE – 6/17/20211 at 4:00 p.m.:Juneteenth is now a national holiday after President Joe Biden signed it into law on Thursday afternoon. The holiday commemorates the day slaves in Confederate states were declared free on June 19, 1865.
On Tuesday, the Senate voted unanimously to establish Juneteenth National Independence Day as a national holiday. The House followed on Wednesday, passing the measure with a 415-14 vote. Juneteenth is the first new federal holiday created since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was signed into law in 1983, CNBC reported.
UPDATE – 6/16/2021 at 7:00 p.m.: One day after the Senate unanimously voted to make Juneteenth a national holiday, the measure passed in the House. It will now go to President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law. It passed with a 415-14 House vote, with only Republicans voting against it. Those Republicans are Representatives Thomas Massie, Mo Brooks, Doug LaMalfa, Tom McClintock, Mike Rogers, Matt Rosendale, Ronny Jackson, Ralph Norman, Andrew Clyde, Chip Roy and Paul Gosar, CNN reported.
On Tuesday, the Senate unanimously voted to establish Juneteenth National Independence Day as a national holiday.
According to CNN, the legislation gained momentum following the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, but Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson blocked the bill in 2020. He said giving federal employees June 19 as a day off would cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.
Juneteenth commemorates when the last enslaved Black Americans learned they were free in Galveston, Texas. If approved by the House and signed into law by President Biden, it would be the 12th federal holiday.
It passed the Senate!
Next up: It should pass the House. Then to President Biden’s desk for signature.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) June 15, 2021
“Making Juneteenth a federal holiday is a major step forward to recognize the wrongs of the past,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said. “But we must continue to work to ensure equal justice and fulfill the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation and our Constitution.”