The Senate has unanimously passed a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.
According to ABC News, the bipartisan legislation was approved Tuesday afternoon, just hours after Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) announced he would drop his objection to the bill. The GOP lawmaker blocked a similar resolution in 2020, citing concerns over the measure’s cost.
“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,” Johnson said, as reported by the State Journal. “Therefore, I do not intend to object.”
Juneteenth, which will be celebrated this Saturday, memorializes the day that formerly enslaved African Americans in Texas learned about their freedom.
They received the news on June 19, 1865, more than two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation.
Texas was the first to recognize Juneteenth as a holiday in 1980; since then, 48 other states and the District of Columbia have passed similar measures establishing the day as a state or ceremonial holiday. South Dakota is the only one that has yet to do so.
The next step is for the bill to pass in the U.S. House of Representatives. If passed, it will then hit President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.