U.S. Senators Ron Johnson and James Lankford are backtracking on a proposed amendment that would have replaced Columbus Day with Juneteenth Day as a federal holiday.
On July 1, Johnson and Lankford filed an amendment to a bipartisan bill that would make Juneteenth a federal holiday. The amendment filed by Johnson and Lankford proposed to replace Columbus Day with Juneteenth as a federal holiday, in order to not add an additional federal holiday that would impact federal services and local businesses.
On Friday, Johnson and Lankford said they were withdrawing the proposed amendment and introducing a modified substitute amendment that would reduce the number of paid leave days for federal employees.
“Although the substitute amendment I offered to the Juneteenth holiday bill had the desired effect of slowing down the passage of a new paid day off for federal workers, many were not happy with the proposal to swap a holiday celebrating emancipation with Columbus Day,” said Johnson in a news release Friday. “Let me reiterate: I suggested Columbus Day for the swap because few Americans in the private sector get it as a paid holiday, and as a result, it is lightly celebrated, and would not be disruptive to most Americans’ schedules. I was in no way deprecating Christopher Columbus’ achievements or expressing any value judgment regarding his place in history. As I stated in an interview with the Milwaukee Press Club last Friday, I do not support efforts to erase America’s rich history, not the good, the bad or the ugly."
Federal employees are given 10 paid holidays a year. Johnson said the cost of an additional 11th paid holiday would cost taxpayers $600 million.
“Instead of eliminating a current holiday to make room for Juneteenth Day, I will be proposing to reduce the number of paid leave days federal employees receive, to offset the cost of the new holiday celebrating emancipation. This modification both preserves Columbus Day and the dollars of hard-working taxpayers," said Johnson.
To read more about the modified amendment, click here.