Congress Approves New Federal Holiday

Congress Approves New Federal Holiday

( – The United States limits the number of federal holidays it recognizes. Currently, it observes only ten. Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday became a federal holiday in 1986, and it was 2000 before all 50 states recognized the holiday. It was the first federal holiday celebrating a national figure who didn’t serve as president and the first for an African-American.

The White House announced on Wednesday, June 16, that President Joe Biden would be signing a new federal bill into law, making Juneteenth a federal holiday on Thursday. The Senate passed the measure under a unanimous consent agreement on June 15, and the House passed it by a vote of 415 to 14 the following day. Film actress Kerry Washington quickly posted a tweet celebrating the bill’s passage.

Moving forward, the federal government will observe June 19 as a holiday called Juneteenth National Independence Day. The holiday celebrates June 19, 1865, the day Union soldiers told enslaved blacks in Texas of their freedom, about 2.5 years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in the nation’s southern states. The news reached Galveston, Texas, two months after the Confederate State of America surrendered.

This is the first federal holiday approved by Congress since Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday. The bill creating the Juneteenth holiday was sponsored by a bipartisan group of legislators, including Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX).

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