Harris, president of Senate, to sign bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday

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President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will both sign the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, a bill declaring June 19 a federal holiday that marks the anniversary of the end of slavery in the United States in 1865.

Harris will add her signature to the measure under her authority as president of the Senate before Biden signs the legislation into law in an East Room ceremony Thursday afternoon, according to a White House aide.

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Harris will also join Biden in delivering remarks at the gathering, according to her official daily guidance released by the White House.

Harris is a familiar face at White House events, though she usually stands silently behind Biden, but she sometimes also gives remarks. However, she is an active president of the Senate, casting tiebreaking votes in the evenly divided chamber.

The House passed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, 415 to 14, this week, one day after it was unanimously approved by the Senate. The Office of Personnel Management tweeted Thursday morning that most federal employees will observe the new holiday on Friday since June 19 falls on a Saturday this year.

The Juneteenth National Independence Day Act establishes the first federal holiday since 1983, when Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created. That holiday, celebrating King's birthday, took 20 years of lobbying, while the push behind Juneteenth gained momentum after George Floyd died on Memorial Day 2020.

"It just seems like, given everything that's going on in terms of race relations in the country, it's an important reminder of how far we've come and how far we still have to go," Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn, a co-sponsor of the Senate bill, told Axios.

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Juneteenth commemorates Union Army Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger enforcing President Abraham Lincoln's 1862 Emancipation Proclamation in Texas.

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Tags: News, Biden, Biden Administration, White House, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Juneteenth

Original Author: Naomi Lim

Original Location: Harris, president of Senate, to sign bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday

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