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Biden signs the Juneteenth bill, creating a new federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S.

Biden signs the Juneteenth bill, creating a new federal holiday

June 21, 2021: On Thursday, President Joe Biden signed a bill establishing Juneteenth, the date commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S, as a federal holiday.

In what is called “one of the greatest honors” of his presidency, Biden signed the bill two days before Juneteenth itself, on June 19 every year.

“We have come far, and we have far to go. But today is a day of celebration,” said Vice President Kamala Harris.

“Great nations don’t ignore their most painful moments,” Biden said to the East Room crowd, including dozens of politicians, activists, and community leaders.

Juneteenth National Independence Day will become the 12th legal public holiday, which includes Inauguration Day. The first new one was created since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was brought into law in 1983 by then-President Ronald Reagan.

Juneteenth celebrates the emancipation of the last enslaved African Americans. On that day in 1865, Union soldiers led by Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in the coastal city of Galveston, Texas, to deliver General Order No. 3, ending slavery in the state.

On Friday, most federal workers will observe Juneteenth this year because June 19 falls on a Saturday. According to the exchange, the New York Stock Exchange will not close for Juneteenth this year but will evaluate closing markets for the holiday in the year 2022.

On Friday, the Securities Exchange Commission will close its offices in observance of the new holiday, a spokesman said. In addition, the SEC’s online data platform, EDGAR, will “also be closed and will not accept filings or assist with filer support,” the spokesman said.

This week, the holiday legislation passed with overwhelming support in both chambers of Congress. The Senate approved the bill unanimously Tuesday, and the House passed it in a 415-14 vote. The votes against the bill come from the Republicans.

On the House floor before the vote, few GOP lawmakers complained about the holiday’s name, and others expressed concern about the cost of giving the federal workforce a day off. Few also railed against Democrats for pushing the bill to a vote without permitting committees to examine the legislation and offer amendments.

Most House Republicans, even those who objected to parts of the bill, voted for it.

The Juneteenth legislation was sponsored in the Senate by Edward Markey, D-Mass. The House version, sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, was co-sponsored by 166 lawmakers.

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