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Sen. Johnson backtracks Juneteenth federal holiday replacement amendment

(FILE) Sen. Ron Johnson retracts his initial proposal to replace the Columbus Day federal holiday with Juneteenth.  (Alexander Drago/Pool via AP)
(FILE) Sen. Ron Johnson retracts his initial proposal to replace the Columbus Day federal holiday with Juneteenth. (Alexander Drago/Pool via AP)(ALEXANDER DRAGO | AP)
Published: Jul. 3, 2020 at 12:51 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson is retracting his initial proposal to replace the Columbus Day federal holiday with Juneteenth.

Johnson and fellow Oklahoma Republican, Sen. James Lankford, filed an amendment on July 1 for the replacement to protect taxpayers from funding an eleventh paid holiday for federal employees.

Federal employees are given ten paid holidays a year, and an additional holiday would cost taxpayers $600 million if Juneteenth was passed as a paid federal holiday.

Johnson added that while he values commemorating the emancipation of slaves, he objected to the carelessness of adding to the existing $26.1 trillion federal debt and more than 17 million Americans remain unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“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 Senator Johnson in explaining his modified proposal.

“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.

“Rather than allow another paid day off for federal workers to pass without debate, or even a vote, I wanted to start a discussion, and I did. In fact, I received a number of very good suggestions. Accordingly, the original amendment is being withdrawn and I am introducing a modified one.

“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.”

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin)

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