WASHINGTON, D.C. (KAMR/KCIT) – Expected to be signed today by President Joe Biden, the House passed a bill which would make Juneteenth, June 19, a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery.
Juneteenth remembers when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free — two months after the Confederacy had surrendered. That was also about two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in the Southern states.
After a unanimous consent agreement speeding up the process for considering legislation, the House voted 415-14 Wednesday to make Juneteenth the 12th federal holiday. All dissenting votes were from Republicans, including Texas Representative Ronny Jackson.
Texas is among states in which Juneteenth is a paid holiday for state employees, alongside New York, Virginia, and Washington.
“Juneteenth is an important part of our history, especially in Texas. I support Texas’ Juneteenth holiday and I support all Americans who celebrate it. However, I do not support more days off for federal employees. Many Americans feel like the federal government is not doing a good job for them as it is.” said Jackson, in a statement about his vote against the bill, “For example, over 60 percent of Americans disapprove of Congress’ job performance. I do not know of any other organization that would reward employees with additional days off with that poor of a job evaluation. We need to create jobs, grow our economy and combat global threats like China, not create more days off for people who have been totally inadequate at delivering for the American people.”
However, supporters of the bill said it’s an important mark of progress in race relations in the country. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., said she viewed Juneteenth as a commemoration rather than a celebration because it represented something that was delayed in happening.
“It also reminds me of what we don’t have today,” she said. “And that is full access to justice, freedom and equality. All these are often in short supply as it relates to the Black community.”