Kevin Dietsch / Getty Images
The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation on Wednesday establishing National Independence Day as June, a federal holiday to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States.
The bill recognizes June 19, 1865, the day Major General Gordon Granger led soldiers to Galveston, Texas, to convey the message that the Union had won the war and that the end of slavery would be imposed.
While the Senate voted unanimously in favor of the holiday, 14 members of the House – all Republicans – voted against the bill, many citing concerns about the name of the holiday and whether it merges with it. the feast of July 4th.
These 14 House Members are: Alabama Reps Mo Brooks and Mike Rogers, Arizona Reps Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar, California Reps Tom McClintock and Doug LaMalfa, Georgia Reps Andrew Clyde , Kentucky Representative Thomas Massie, Montana Representative Matt Rosendale, South Carolina Representative Ralph Norman, Tennessee Representative Scott DesJarlais, Texas Representatives Ronny Jackson and Chip Roy, and Wisconsin Representative Tom Tiffany.
“I fully support the creation of a day to celebrate the abolition of slavery, a dark part of our nation’s history,” Massie told the House Wednesday. “However, naming this day ‘National Independence Day’ will create confusion and cause Americans to choose either of these two days as Independence Day based on their racial identity.”
He added, “Why can’t we name this emancipation day and come together as Americans and celebrate this day together as Americans: black and white, all colors, all races, all? ethnicities, then come together on Independence Day, which celebrates the creation of our country by overthrowing an oppressive government. ”
Representative Brenda Lawrence, D-Mich., Reacted to this argument on the ground, saying, “I want to say to my white colleagues across the way: getting your independence from being enslaved in a country is different from a country that gains independence will govern themselves. ”
Representative Chip Roy argued that the legislation should have gone through a House committee and that there should have been a larger debate on the designation of the party.
“I believe it has often been called in our history” the day of jubilee “, as” the day of emancipation “, as” the day of freedom “- I would be willing to accept any of those names “Roy said on the floor Wednesday. “I don’t believe the title ‘National Independence Day’ works, and I’d rather we just had a debate about it.”
Rep. Ralph Norman posted a thread on Twitter also criticizing the name of the holiday. He also wrote that he feared the federal vacation “cost the federal government more than $ 1 billion.”
“Our Independence Day is July 4. Period. Independence Day celebrates the anniversary of our declared independence from Great Britain, and has been so for 245 years,” Norman wrote. “If you want to call Juneteenth, for example, Freedom Day or Emancipation Day, then fine – it’s definitely worth considering. But calling it Independence Day is TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE.”
Other Republican Congressmen have said the party is divisive.
“I voted no because this vacation proposal does not bring us together, it separates us,” Arizona Representative Paul Gosar said in a statement after the vote. “I cannot support efforts that deepen racial divisions in this country. We have an independence day, and this applies equally to all people of all races.”
He did not explain how a federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery fosters racial divisions.
Montana Rep. Matt Rosendale echoed the sentiment, saying the party is an “effort by the left to create a day from scratch to celebrate identity politics as part of its broader efforts to raise awareness. critical race theory the reigning ideology of our country “.
Republicans have used the term “critical race theory” as a shorthand for all the conversations about race, racism and anti-racism, which some political strategists say could be used to rally the conservative base as an issue of cultural war ahead of next year’s midterm elections. .
President Biden plans to sign the bill on Thursday afternoon.