Washington, DC: The House passed legislation Wednesday that would establish June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day, a US federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, sending the bill to President Biden who is expected to sign it after returning from his Europe tour.
The bill passed the House 415-14 after the Senate unanimously passed the legislation Tuesday. The no votes were all Republicans.
The legislation was previously blocked by conservative Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin in 2020 but he dropped his objection this week despite his concerns, allowing the bill to advance out of the chamber.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer thanked the bill’s bipartisan sponsors, which included Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D), Sen. John Cornyn (R) and Sen. Ed Markey (D).
On June 19, 1865, Maj Gen Gordon Granger announced in Galveston, Texas, the end of slavery in accordance with President Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation. In 1980, Juneteenth became a Texas state holiday. In the decades since, every state but South Dakota came to officially commemorate Juneteenth, but only a handful of states observe it as a paid holiday.