The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the Senate had passed a resolution to declare Juneteeth a federal holiday.
The legislation, which passed unanimously in Congress’ upper chamber, would make June 19th a national day for commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. It coincides with the day that “Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to Galveston, Texas” in the wake of the Civil War, more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, the AP reported.
According to NBC News, the measure went on to easily pass the House on Thursday in a 415–14 vote, teeing it up for a signature from President Joe Biden.
Cruz: “An important day”
NBC notes that 47 states as well as the District of Columbia already recognize Juneteenth in some capacity.
At the federal level, the bill to establish the holiday, which will be called Juneteenth Independence Day, was supported by senators including Texas Republican Ted Cruz, who called himself “a proud co-sponsor.”
“Juneteenth is an important day,” Cruz said in a statement, according to The Epoch Times. “It’s a somber reminder of the original sin of slavery that our nation inherited from colonial powers.”
The senator went on: “Still, it is also a celebration of the fact that our country strives each and every day to make good on its promise to protect the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all men and all women who are created equal.”
“I won’t stand in the way”
Also sponsoring the legislation was Cruz’s Texas colleague, Republican Sen. John Cornyn, who noted that Juneteenth has been marked as a holiday in the Lone Star State for more than four decades.
“Now more than ever, we need to learn from our history and continue to form a more perfect union,” Cornyn declared, adding that he was happy the resolution had passed, according to the Times.
Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson (R) had previously expressed misgivings over the addition of yet another federal holiday — there are already 10, according to reports — but he later withdrew his opposition to the bill, allowing it to pass by unanimous consent in the upper chamber.
“I support celebrating the emancipation of the slaves. I just didn’t really understand why the only way to do that is to give 2 million federal health care workers, that would cost $600 million a year, a day off,” Johnson explained, according to NBC.
“But apparently the rest of Congress wants to do that,” he added, “so I won’t stand in the way.”