UPDATE: Senators withdraw proposal to scrap Columbus Day as fed. holiday, Sen. Johnson to propose alternative

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The Juneteenth flag flies in Omaha, Neb., Wednesday, June 17, 2020. The Juneteenth flag commemorating the day that slavery ended in the U.S. will fly over the Wisconsin Capitol for the first time in state’s history, Gov. Tony Evers announced Wednesday. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

FRIDAY 7/3/2020 11:36 a.m.

(WFRV) – U.S. senators Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) have withdrawn a proposed substitute amendment to scrap Columbus Day as a federal holiday and replace it with Juneteenth.

According to the senators, the proposal was meant to protect taxpayers from the financial burden of having to fund an 11th paid holiday for federal employees.

Sen. Johnson has announced his intention to introduce a modified substitute amendment to achieve the same goal if the Senate decides to celebrate Juneteenth Day by giving federal employees another paid day off.

Currently, federal employees are given 10 paid holidays a year. The Senate was recently on track to approve the addition of Juneteenth Day as an 11th paid holiday, which could cost taxpayers about $600 million, according to officials.

“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.

In a news release, Sen. Johnson explained:

“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 Accordingly, the original amendment is being withdrawn and I am introducing a modified one.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.”

The bill to designate Juneteenth as a national holiday, S.4019, has been read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, according to Congress.

Original Story: Sen. Ron Johnson proposes replacing Columbus Day with Juneteenth as new federal holiday

THURSDAY 7/2/2020 6:57 a.m.

(WFRV) – U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is one of two senators proposing scrapping Columbus Day as a federal holiday and replacing it with Juneteenth.

Sen. Johnson and U.S. Senator James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) filed an amendment to previously introduced legislation that would make Juneteenth a national holiday.

“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 Sen. Johnson. “We support celebrating emancipation with a federal holiday, but believe we should eliminate a current holiday in exchange. We chose Columbus Day as a holiday that is lightly celebrated, and least disruptive to Americans’ schedules.”

According to Senate officials, the cost of a single federal holiday has been estimated at around $600 million for paid time off for federal employees.

The amendment comes as communities across the nation are removing monuments of Christopher Columbus, including in Columbus, Ohio. The city council of Columbus, Wisconsin, is set to vote on the removal of the statue of their namesake.

To view the full text of the amendment, click here.

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