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Biden to Sign Law Making Juneteenth a Federal Holiday

  • June 17, 2021

President Biden on Thursday signed legislation to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, the day after the House voted overwhelmingly to enshrine June 19 as the national day to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States.

The Senate rushed the measure through with no debate earlier this week after clearing away a longstanding Republican objection, and the House approved it on Wednesday by a vote of 415 to 14, with 14 Republicans opposed. Mr. Biden said he counted signing the legislation into law as one of the greatest honors he will have as president. Ms. Harris also signed the legislation in her capacity as President of the Senate, an administration official said.

“Throughout history, Juneteenth has been known by many names, and today, a national holiday,” Ms. Harris said at a White House ceremonial bill signing. National holidays, Ms. Harris said, “are days when we as a nation have decided to stop and take stock, and often to acknowledge our history.”

Mr. Biden called it “a day of, in my view, profound weight and profound power,” noting it was the first new national holiday established since Martin Luther King Day in 1983. By making it a federal holiday, Mr. Biden said, “all Americans can feel the power of this day, and learn from our history, and celebrate progress and grapple with the distance we’ve come but the distance we have to travel.”

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