Speed Reads

time to celebrate

Senate unanimously passes bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday

The Senate unanimously passed a bill on Tuesday that would make Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, a federal holiday.

Juneteenth commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, when the last enslaved people in Texas finally learned they were free. It was first celebrated in Texas in 1865, and today most states recognize Juneteenth as a holiday. The bill is expected to also pass in the House.

"Making Juneteenth a federal holiday is a major step forward to recognizing the wrongs of the past, but we must continue to work to ensure equal justice and fulfill the promise of the Emancipation Proclamation and our Constitution," Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement. 

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) had blocked an earlier attempt to pass a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday, saying there wasn't enough debate and federal employees did not need another day off. Before Tuesday's vote, he released a statement saying "it is clear that there is no appetite in Congress to further discuss the matter. Therefore, I do not intend to object."