LAWMAKERS have voted to make Juneteenth a federal holiday to commemorate the day when the last enslaved African Americans learned they were free.
The drive to pass the legislation again gained momentum in wake of the Black Lives Matter protests over the last year.
When does Juneteenth start being a federal holiday?
The bill sailed through the US Senate, gaining unanimous approval on June 15 before being passed to Congress.
The House of Representatives then also passed the legislation the following day, establishing June 19 as a legal public holiday.
It will officially become a federal holiday upon President Joe Biden signs it into law this afternoon.
Federal employees will receive a paid day off on June 19, or on the nearest Friday or Monday to commemorate the Emancipation Proclamation.
It will be Biden's first order of business upon his return from his weeklong trip to Europe.
Texas first made Juneteenth a state holiday in 1980, and “every state but South Dakota came to officially commemorate Juneteenth” in the decades following, according to CNN.
However, only a few note it as a paid holiday.
Some cities and companies also recognize the holiday. In 2020, Juneteenth was formally recognized by New York City as a yearly official city holiday and public school holiday, starting the year after.
It will become the 12th federal holiday in America.
Who voted against Juneteenth?
Despite the overwhelming support for the bill, it wasn't a clean sweep when being passed through Congress.
The Juneteenth legislation was voted against by 14 Republicans in the House.
They suggested the bill would divide Americans, with GOP Rep. Chip Roy of Texas even taking swipe at the holidays name – saying, "on a matter that should instead bring us together by creating a separate Independence Day based on the color of one's skin."
Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, Rep. Andrew Clyde of Georgia, Rep. Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee and Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona were among the lawmakers who voted against Juneteenth being made a federal holiday.
Rep. Ronny Jackson of Texas, Rep. Doug LaMalfa of California, Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Rep. Tom McClintock of California, Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina, Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, Rep. Matt Rosendale of Montana, Rep. Chip Roy of Texas and Rep. Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin also opposed the bill.
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