The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a measure on Tuesday that would make Juneteenth a federal holiday.
The legislation, which garnered 60 co-sponsors across both parties, would create Juneteenth National Independence Day to commemorate the events of June 19, 1865, when news of the emancipation of slaves reached those in the southwestern United States.
"Next up: It should pass the House," Schumer tweeted. "Then to President Biden’s desk for signature."
I just put a bill on the floor of the Senate from @SenMarkey and @SenTinaSmith to make #Juneteenth a federal holiday.
It passed the Senate!
Next up: It should pass the House. Then to President Biden’s desk for signature.
— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) June 15, 2021
Democratic Sen. Tina Smith celebrated the passage by quoting an op-ed written by musical artist Usher ahead of June 19, 2020, urging the creation of the holiday.
"It is ours to honor the legacy of our ancestors, ours to celebrate and ours to remember where we once were as a people," Smith wrote, reproducing a quote from the op-ed and tagging Usher. "A year later and your words about Juneteenth still ring true."
“It is ours to honor the legacy of our ancestors, ours to celebrate and ours to remember where we once were as a people. And it should be a national holiday, observed by all Americans.” Thank you @Usher. A year later and your words about #Juneteenth still ring true. https://t.co/Je54ZV2XrH
— Senator Tina Smith (@SenTinaSmith) June 15, 2021
Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, who introduced a similar resolution during this Congress and in previous Congresses, said it's an opportunity to learn from the nation's history.
“Happy that my bill to recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday just passed the Senate,” he wrote on Twitter. "It has been a state holiday in Texas for more than 40 years. Now more than ever, we need to learn from our history and continue to form a more perfect union."
Happy that my bill to recognize Juneteenth as a national holiday just passed the Senate. It has been a state holiday in Texas for more than 40 years. Now more than ever, we need to learn from our history and continue to form a more perfect union. https://t.co/EpcJCUmfmn
— Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) June 15, 2021
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz expressed his support for the resolution, calling a commemoration a "solemn reminder" of slavery.
"Juneteenth is an important day. It is a somber reminder of the original sin of slavery that our Nation inherited from colonial powers," Cruz said on the Senate floor on Tuesday. "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."
Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, who objected to and therefore blocked a Juneteenth federal holiday measure in the last Congress, withheld his objection on Tuesday.
"Last year, a bill was introduced to celebrate Juneteenth by providing an additional paid holiday for 2 million federal employees at a cost of $600 million per year," he said in a statement. "While it still seems strange that having taxpayers provide federal employees paid time off is now required to celebrate the end of slavery, it is clear that there is no appetite in Congress to further discuss the matter."
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Original Author: Jeremy Beaman