US Has a New Federal Holiday

Bill to make Juneteenth a holiday passes House; 14 Republicans voted against it
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 17, 2021 4:57 AM CDT
Updated Jun 17, 2021 6:50 AM CDT
Bill to Make Juneteenth Federal Holiday Passes House
In this June 19, 2020 photo, protesters chant as they march after a Juneteenth rally at the Brooklyn Museum.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

The United States will soon have a new federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery. The House voted 415-14 on Wednesday to make Juneteenth, or June 19th, the 12th federal holiday, the AP reports. The bill now goes to President Biden’s desk, and he is expected to sign it into law. Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas—two months after the Confederacy had surrendered and more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. It’s the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983. "Our federal holidays are purposely few in number and recognize the most important milestones," said Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney. "I cannot think of a more important milestone to commemorate than the end of slavery in the United States."

The Senate passed the bill a day earlier under a unanimous consent agreement that expedites the process for considering legislation. It takes just one senator’s objection to block such agreements. "Please, let us do as the Senate. Vote unanimously for passage," Democratic Rep. David Scott, pleaded with his colleagues. Several members of the Congressional Black Caucus took to the floor to speak in favor of the bill. Some Republican lawmakers opposed the effort and 14 of them voted against it. Rep. Matt Rosendale said creating the federal holiday was an effort to celebrate “identity politics." Under the legislation, the federal holiday would be known as Juneteenth National Independence Day.

(More Juneteenth stories.)

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