GOP Rep: 'Juneteenth National Independence Day' a 'wholly inappropriate' name for federal holiday

"Our Independence Day is July 4th," said South Carolina Republican Ralph Norman. "If you want to call Juneteenth, for example, Freedom Day or Emancipation Day then fine — that's certainly worth considering."

Updated: June 18, 2021 - 1:00pm

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A Republican congressman who voted against a bill establishing "Juneteenth National Independence Day" as a public holiday on June 19 argues the name of the holiday is "wholly inappropriate" and is suggesting alternatives like "Freedom Day or Emancipation Day."

The bill, formally titled the "Juneteenth National Independence Day Act," commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S. The bill passed the Democrat-led Senate via unanimous consent and the House in a 415-14 vote on Wednesday. President Bidens signed the bill on Thursday.

The federal government is observing Juneteenth on June 18. According to Forbes, federal employees now receive 44 paid days off each year.

Rep. Ralph Norman, a South Carolina Republican, was one of the 14 Republicans to vote against the legislation. 

"First of all, our Independence Day is July 4th," Norman wrote on Twitter explaining the rationale behind his no vote. "Period. Independence Day celebrates the anniversary of our declared independence from Great Britain, and it's been that way for 245 years.

"If you want to call Juneteenth, for example, Freedom Day or Emancipation Day then fine — that's certainly worth considering. But calling it Independence Day is WHOLLY INAPPROPIATE. Second, we can't just add new federal holidays without considering the ramifications!" 

Norman said an extra holiday for federal employees that was designated by former President Obama had cost the federal government millions of dollars.

"When Obama issued an executive order in 2014 giving federal employees an extra day off, that cost the government roughly $660 MILLION dollars, according to the Congressional Budget Office," he wrote. "So given inflation and the obnoxious growth of the federal government, this means a Juneteenth holiday should easily cost the federal government over a billion dollars Every. Single. Year. in federal payroll & holiday premiums with no offsets!"

Norman said Congress has "no idea what the impact" of the extra federal holiday will be on the government or private sector because House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "decided to ram this through without what's known as 'regular order.'"

There "were no hearings, no cost analysis by the CBO, nothing!" he added. "As reverential as Juneteenth is, this is NO WAY to run the legislative branch of government."

Arizona Republican Rep. Andy Biggs, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, also said that "National Emancipation Day" would have been a more appropriate name.

"They've weaponized this bill like they weaponize everything else," Biggs, who voted against the bill, said in a video. "They want to divide, and that's just a shame because I support the celebration of Juneteenth. It's an important part of our nation's history."

GOP Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona said he voted against the bill because there should be one Independence Day for the U.S.

"Our country is divided, and the cultural and political Marxists are continuing their relentless efforts to divide this country further," he said in a statement. "Juneteenth is more debunked Critical Race Theory in action. I reject racism. I reject the racial division people are promoting. I voted no because this proposed holiday does not bring us together, it tears us apart. I cannot support efforts that further racial divisions in this country. We have one Independence Day, and it applies equally to all people of all races."

GOP Montana Rep. Matt Rosendale said the Democrats "intent is to replace the Fourth of July with this new day, one that will inevitably focus on America's darkest moments."

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