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Senate Passes Bill to Create 12th Federal Holiday

Juneteenth bill passed under unanimous consent agreement
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 15, 2021 6:58 PM CDT

(Newser) – The Senate passed a bill Tuesday that would make Juneteenth, or June 19th, a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. The bill would lead to Juneteenth becoming the 12th federal holiday. It is expected to easily pass the House, which would send it to President Biden for his signature, the AP reports. Juneteenth commemorates when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free. Confederate soldiers surrendered in April 1865, but word didn’t reach the last enslaved Black people until June 19, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to Galveston, Texas. That was also about two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.

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"Making Juneteenth a federal holiday is a major step forward to recognize the wrongs of the past," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. "But we must continue to work to ensure equal justice and fulfill the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation and our Constitution." The Senate passed the bill under a unanimous consent agreement that expedites the process for considering legislation. It takes just one senator's objection to block such agreements. GOP Sen. Ron Johnson had objected in the previous Congress to a bill to celebrate Juneteenth as a federal holiday because of the cost, but he said Tuesday that "it is clear that there is no appetite in Congress to further discuss the matter." The bill was sponsored by Democratic Sen. Edward Markey and had 60 co-sponsors.

(Read more Juneteenth stories.)

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