Washington — President Biden on Thursday will sign into law a measure that makes June 19, or Juneteenth, a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.
The bill, the Juneteenth Independence Day Act, headed to Mr. Biden’s desk after it overwhelmingly passed the House on Wednesday and the Senate on Tuesday. Fourteen Republicans opposed the legislation in the House.
With its passage, Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day or Freedom Day, is poised to become the nation’s 12th federal holiday. It is the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was established in 1983.
The law will go into effect immediately. The Office of Personnel Management, the agency that oversees the federal workforce, said most federal employees will observe the holiday on Friday, since June 19 falls on a Saturday.
How to watch President Biden’s remarks
- What: President Biden signs the Juneteenth Independence Day Act into law and delivers remarks
- When: Thursday, June 17
- Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
- Location: The White House
- Online stream: Live on CBSN in the player above or on your mobile or streaming device
Legislation to formally marking the end of slavery was introduced last year by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas and Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, both Democrats, after the death of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis. Neither measure, however, received a vote on the floors of their respective chambers. The lawmakers reintroduced their bills earlier this year, with each receiving broad bipartisan support.
While one Republican senator, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, previously blocked the bill in the Senate over its cost and lack of debate, he said Tuesday he would no longer object, citing a lack of appetite in Congress to further discuss the issue.
Juneteenth marks the day in 1865 when the last enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, were notified the Civil War had ended and they were free. The news was brought to them more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves in the Confederate states.
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