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Congress passed a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday. Here are key things to know.


Joshua Roberts/Getty Images
Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

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’s desk for his signature.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will sign the bill into law today at 3:30 p.m. ET and deliver remarks.

  • How the vote unfolded: The bill passed the House 415-14 after the Senate unanimously passed the legislation Tuesday. The 14 Republicans to vote against the bill were Reps. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin, Doug LaMalfa of California, Tom McClintock of California, Mike Rogers of Alabama, Matt Rosendale of Montana, Ronny Jackson of Texas, Ralph Norman of South Carolina, Andrew Clyde of Georgia, Chip Roy of Texas and Paul Gosar of Arizona.
  • The bill’s path: The legislation had gained momentum after the Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd last year and the Democrats’ takeover of the White House and Congress.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 announced that the House would vote Wednesday in a tweet where he thanked the bill’s bipartisan sponsors, which included Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas and Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts.
  • More on the holiday’s history: On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger announced in Galveston, Texas, the end of slavery in accordance with President Abraham 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.

Read more about the bill here.





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