Sen. Ron Johnson
(R-Wisconsin) announced on Tuesday that he will withdraw his opposition to legislation that would make Juneteenth
a federal holiday commemorating the abolition of slavery
in the United States
Johnson stated that he realized the bill had enough support in the Senate
to overcome a filibuster
, so he decided not to pursue it.
“It appears that Congress
wants to do it, so I won’t get in the way,” Johnson told Stardia.
Rep. Sheila Jackson
Lee (D-Texas) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) introduced the bill last year amid mass protests over the police
killing of George Floyd
If no Republicans
object to its quick consideration on the floor, the bill could pass this year — as early as this week, Cornyn told Stardia — and there could be a request for unanimous consent
to proceed immediately to a vote on final passage of the bill this week.
Cornyn stated that if Johnson does not object, “it is likely to pass.” A GOP
objection would only delay passage; Democrats
could still go through the time-consuming process of scheduling a recorded vote.
The Juneteenth National Independence Day Act has 18 Republican cosponsors, but it's possible that another Republican will insist on the Senate going through the full cloture process, which would require time for debate and the support of 60 senators before a vote on final passage. It's unclear whether Democrats will want to take the time, however, because they've been more focused on bills p
Since that day in 1965, when the Union Army delivered word to Galveston, Texas, that slavery had been abolished, two years after President
Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, African Americans
have celebrated the abolition of slavery on June 19.
If the bill is passed, Juneteenth will become the 11th annual federal holiday. Only federal employees are required by law
to take federal holidays
off; private employers are not required to do so.
Johnson, for one, maintains his opposition to the bill's concept.
“I support commemorating the abolition of slavery, emancipation,” Johnson said, “but I find it odd
that the only way to do so now appears to be to give 2 million federal workers a paid day off, at a cost of $600 million to American taxpayers.”