Urgent Political Matters Slow The Bid To Make Juneteenth A Federal Holiday

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A lot has changed since the day that Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd in Minneapolis. Certain laws have changed, scholarships have been launched in his name and others have found their calling in activism. Unfortunately, many things have stayed the same. The George Floyd Justice In Policing Act has been stripped down and it still hasn't passed. Also, dozens of unarmed Black civilians have been killed at the hands of police and hundreds more have been assaulted. Not to mention, some police officers have even been reinstated after harming unarmed Black individuals.

One movement that was renewed in the wake of Floyd's death that has not enjoyed any resolution is the push to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. Led by activist Opal Lee, the push to make June 19 a federal holiday has made its way to the House of Representatives. However, it has not successfully made its way through the U.S. Senate. Last summer, Republican Senator John Cornyn introduced a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, but Sen. Ron Johnson single-handedly blocked the measure. In the wake of Johnson's single-handed block, legislation calling for Juneteenth to become a federal holiday has already received support from 60 Senators, including 18 Republicans. Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee has also said that she is willing to work with Johnson to address his concerns regarding the measure.

“I don’t want to ignore him,” Lee said.

"I’m very happy to find out what his concern is.”

Despite the growing support for the bill, it has remained in limbo because Congress has devoted its time to other pressing matters. In recent weeks, voting rights, COVID-19 vaccine distribution and the aforementioned George Floyd Justice In Policing Act have taken center stage on Capitol Hill. Moving forward, federal lawmakers will look to debate legislation regarding the nation's infrastructure. As a result, it is unlikely that the bill would reach the floor until the fall, at the earliest.

If the bill does pass later this year or in 2022, Juneteenth would become the first new federal holiday since 1983.

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