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Sen. Johnson proposes replacing Columbus Day with Juneteenth as federal holiday

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Sen. Ron Johnson
The Juneteenth flag is raised the first time over the state Capitol in Madison.
Sara Maslar-Donar/WKOW
The Juneteenth flag is raised the first time over the state Capitol in Madison.

WASHINGTON (WKOW) -- U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson is supporting a proposal to replace Columbus Day with Juneteenth as a new federal holiday.

Johnson framed the amendment as both a celebration of emancipation and sound fiscal governance in a press release sent Tuesday.

“In response to a bipartisan effort to give federal workers another day of paid leave by designating Juneteenth a federal holiday, we have offered a counterproposal that does not put us further in debt,” said Johnson. “We support celebrating emancipation with a federal holiday, but believe we should eliminate a current holiday in exchange."

Johnson noted the cost of paying federal employees for a day off.

He filed the amendment in partnership with Sen. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) to a bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday offered by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).

Johnson's statement made no reference to the growing backlash over Columbus Day by those who say it is offensive to indigenous people because it honors the beginnings of European colonization.

Instead, the Wisconsin senator said he and Lankford picked the day because the holiday is, "is lightly celebrated and least disruptive to Americans’ schedules.

June 19, or Juneteenth, is celebrated as the end of slavery in America. On that day in 1865, enslaved African-American in Galveston, Texas were told they were free.

JT Cestkowski

Social Media Content Producer/Desk Editor

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