On Tuesday, the Senate unanimously passed the resolution establishing June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day, which is now a U.S. holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States, according to CNN.
The legislation has gained momentum since the massive Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd last year and the Democrats’ takeover of the White House and Congress.
But Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson blocked the bill in 2020, saying that the day off for federal employees would cost US taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. Johnson dropped his objection this week despite his concerns, paving the way for the bill’s passage in the Senate.
“Although I strongly support celebrating Emancipation, I objected to the cost and lack of debate,” said Johnson 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.”
The measure needs to pass the House and be signed by President Joe Biden to become law.
Democrats Ed Markey and Sheila Jackson and Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn led the effort to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.