A group of Republican lawmakers voted against making June 19, known as “Juneteenth,” a federal holiday after the bill passed the Senate earlier this week.
As The Daily Wire previously reported, the Senate unanimously passed a bill Tuesday that would make “Juneteenth” a federal holiday. The act is called the “Juneteenth National Independence Day Act” and would designate the day as a “legal public holiday.”
Some Republicans took issue with the proposed name of the holiday, saying that calling it “Juneteenth National Independence Day” would divide people along racial lines.
As reported by The Hill, the 14 Republicans who voted against the measure were Reps. Andy Biggs (AZ), Mo Brooks (AL), Andrew Clyde (GA), Scott DesJarlais (TN), Paul Gosar (AZ), Ronny Jackson (TX), Doug LaMalfa (CA), Thomas Massie (KY), Tom McClintock (CA), Ralph Norman (SC), Mike Rogers (AL), Matt Rosendale (MT), Chip Roy (TX), and Tom Tiffany (WI).
Several of the lawmakers were concerned with the name of the holiday, with Massie suggesting it could be called “Emancipation Day” rather than “National Independence Day.”
“I fully support creating a day to celebrate the abolition of slavery,” Massie said during the debate on the House floor. “However, naming this day National Independence Day will create confusion and push Americans to pick one of those two days as their Independence Day based on their racial identity.”
In a statement released after he voted against the bill, Gosar said, “Our country is divided, and the cultural and political Marxists are continuing their relentless efforts to divide this country further. Juneteenth is more debunked Critical Race Theory in action. I reject racism. I reject the racial division people are promoting.”
He added, “I voted no because this proposed holiday does not bring us together, it tears us apart. I cannot support efforts that furthers racial divisions in this country. We have one Independence Day, and it applies equally to all people of all races.”
Before the vote, Rosendale reportedly said, “Let’s call an ace an ace. This is an effort by the left to create a day out of whole cloth to celebrate identity politics as part of its larger efforts to make ‘critical race theory’ the reigning ideology of our country. Since I believe in treating everyone equally, regardless of race, and that we should be focused on what unites us rather than our differences, I will vote ‘no.’”
Prior to the vote, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it was “an exciting, historic day,” per NBC News. The bill was still passed in the House of Representatives in a 415-14 vote and it now heads to President Joe Biden’s desk.
The federal holiday would recognize June 19, 1865, observing what is traditionally celebrated as African American Emancipation Day. According to juneteenth.com, Juneteenth is “the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States.” It was the day that Major Gen. Gordon Granger led Union troops to Galveston, Texas, and told the people there that the Civil War was over and all slaves were free. The news came two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on the first day of January 1863.
There have been many efforts to explain why there was such a delay in the news being received in Texas.
Often told is the story of a messenger who was murdered on his way to Texas with the news of freedom. Another is that the news was deliberately withheld by the enslavers to maintain the labor force on the plantations. And still another is that federal troops actually waited for the slave owners to reap the benefits of one last cotton harvest before going to Texas to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. All of which, or none of these versions could be true.
General Granger reportedly read aloud General Order Number 3 to tell them the news, beginning with, “The people of Texas are informed that in accordance with a Proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired laborer.”
As reported by USA Today, Sens. Ed Markey (D-MA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, (D-TX) reintroduced the bill earlier this year after Markey had introduced it last summer.
In a statement on Tuesday, Markey noted that the United States has “failed to acknowledge, address, and come to grips with our nation’s original sin of slavery.”
“Today’s Senate passage of our legislation to commemorate Juneteenth as a federal holiday will address this long-ignored gap in our history, recognize the wrong that was done, acknowledge the pain and suffering of generations of slaves and their descendants, and finally celebrate their freedom,” he said.