Senate

Ron Johnson booed at Juneteenth celebration in Wisconsin

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) was met with boos while attending a Juneteenth celebration on Saturday in Milwaukee, WDJT reported.

According to WDJT, the Republican senator was heckled by crowd members while speaking to reporters. 

At one point during the video, a bystander can be heard saying, “We don’t need you out here.” 

Johnson had been a key holdout to making Juneteenth a federal holiday. He dropped his objection to the bill last week, effectively clearing the way for its passage.

“Last year, a bill was introduced to celebrate Juneteenth by providing an additional paid holiday for 2 million federal employees at a cost of $600 million per year. They attempted to pass the bill without debate or amendment process,” Johnson said in announcing his position. 

“Although I strongly support celebrating Emancipation, I objected to the cost and lack of debate.  While it still seems strange that having taxpayers provide federal employees paid time off is now required to celebrate the end of slavery, it is clear that there is no appetite in Congress to further discuss the matter. Therefore, I do not intend to object,” he added.

Juneteenth, celebrated every year on June 19, recognizes the day in 1865 when Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3 in Galveston, Texas, emancipating the remaining enslaved people in the state. For enslaved people in Texas at the time, freedom came more than two years after former President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. 

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced a bill to recognize Juneteenth in their respective chambers last June, but it didn’t gain momentum. 

The bill was reintroduced in February, and it was taken up by Congress this week. The Senate on Tuesday passed the legislation by unanimous consent, and the House passed the bill Wednesday.  

On Thursday, President Biden signed the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act into law. However, Biden noted that “it’s simply not enough just to commemorate Juneteenth.”

“After all, the emancipation of enslaved Black Americans didn’t mark the end of America’s work to deliver on the promise of equality. It only marked the beginning. To honor the true meaning of Juneteenth, we have to continue towards that promise because we’ve not gotten there yet,” Biden said.

WDJT reported that Johnson also attended a similar celebration in Kenosha, Wis., on Saturday.

On Twitter, Johnson said that he was dedicating the first Juneteenth holiday to Pastor Jerome Smith.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Smith worked with Johnson to create the a faith-based program that connects people with job opportunities. He died from coronavirus complications in April.

Tags Ed Markey Joe Biden Milwaukee Sheila Jackson Lee

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