Wednesday afternoon, the U.S. House passed a bill by a 415-14-(2) margin to make Juneteenth an official federal holiday. Senate Bill 475 (S. 475), The Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, was unanimously passed by the U.S. Senate earlier this week. It will now move on to President Joe Biden for his consideration.

All 14 "No" votes in the U.S. House for S. 475 were made by Republicans; two of them by Texans. Congressman Ronny Jackson (R- TX-13), and Congressman Chip Roy (R- TX-21) both voted against the proposal.

Congressman Roy was in favor of the concept for a holiday for Juneteenth, but rather he took issue with the proposed name that would be used for the Juneteenth holiday: "Juneteenth National Independence Day". He said that he thought it would conflict with the July 4th Independence Day holiday.

On the floor of the U.S. House, Congressman Roy said in part, "... I would offer an amendment, embracing the recognition of this important day, June 19, 1965, and what that meant, for the actual end of slavery."

He continued, ".. And I think it would be important and I believe and it's been referred to in our history as Jubilee Day, Emancipation Day, (and) Freedom Day. I would be amenable to any of those names. I don't believe that the title 'National Independence Day' works."

Congressman Jackson did not offer any public comments on Wednesday concerning his vote on S. 475.

The bill passed with the original proposed name for the holiday intact.

Concerning S. 475, the bill's text is very straight-forward:

S. 475


To amend title 5, United States Code, to designate Juneteenth National Independence Day as a legal public holiday.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “Juneteenth National Independence Day Act”.

SEC. 2. Juneteenth National Independence Day as a legal public holiday.

Section 6103(a) of title 5, United States Code, is amended by inserting after the item relating to Memorial Day the following:

“Juneteenth National Independence Day, June 19.”.


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