WASHINGTON — Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., and Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, D-Minn., are among the bipartisan cosponsors of a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday.
The bill, which passed the Senate on June 16, was introduced by Sens. John Cornyn of Texas and Ed Markey of Massachusetts. The bill had 40 co-sponsors from 30 states.
Juneteenth, celebrated on June 19, commemorates Union Army Gen. Gordon Granger announcing federal orders that all slaves in Texas were free on June 19, 1865. Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had outlawed slavery more than 2 1/2 years earlier, but there were few Union troops in Texas to enforce it.
"It’s past time we honor Juneteenth as a federal holiday so Americans across the nation can celebrate and recognize America’s long-fought path towards equality,” Cornyn said.
North Dakota, South Dakota and Hawaii are the only three states that do not officially acknowledge Juneteenth. Though North Dakota Sen. Tim Mathern, D-Fargo, has said he will propose a bill in the next legislative session that recognizes Juneteenth as a state holiday.