Republican senators are open to the idea of making Juneteenth a federal holiday—but some of them want to scrap another holiday to make space for it. An internal GOP debate over eliminating Columbus Day, or potentially another holiday, has held up a bipartisan Juneteenth bill, the Hill reports. June 19, also known as "Emancipation Day" and "Liberation Day," celebrates the end of slavery in the US. It marks the day in 1865 that Union soldiers arrived in Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. Budget hawk Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, says adding a paid holiday when "we're already blowing a hole in the budget" is a mistake and something needs to go to make way for Juneteenth.
"We chose Columbus Day as a holiday that is lightly celebrated, and least disruptive to Americans’ schedules," Johnson said Wednesday after introducing an amendment to the bipartisan Juneteenth bill sponsored by Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn. GOP Sen. Richard Lankford of Oklahoma, Johnson's co-sponsor, described Juneteenth as "America's second independence day," but said lawmakers should remain "cognizant of the impact the existing 10 federal holidays have on federal services and local businesses," Fox reports. Cornyn says scrapping Columbus Day would be "problematic," because it "dilutes the message we're trying to send, which is one of being respectful and honoring and remembering our history." (Read more Juneteenth stories.)