For A Minute Sen. Ron Johnson Wanted To Make Juneteenth A Federal Holiday, But He Got Over It
The bipartisan effort to make Juneteenth a federal holiday has failed — and oddly enough, not explicitly because of (his own) racism. Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin blocked a bipartisan bill from advancing because he thinks it would be too expensive to have another federal holiday.
Yes. Senator Johnson says he would be totally into celebrating the end of slavery — and initially amended Democrats' (and John Cornyn's!) proposed bill for a federal Juneteenth holiday with a swap of Columbus Day for Juneteenth, but backtracked on that after Tucker Carlson and his fellow Republicans went hog-wild — if it did not mean giving "federal workers a paid day off that the rest of America has to pay for." He also claims that another federal holiday would cost the private sector $600 million, especially a holiday that is not particularly conducive to mattress sales and Toyotathons.
As a "compromise," Senator Johnson suggested taking a paid leave day away from federal employees. That didn't go over too well, on account of how it was a very stupid idea.
Via Huffington Post:
Johnson proposed a compromise. He asked the Senate to adopt his amendment to the holiday bill sponsored by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) bill that would subtract a day of paid leave from federal workers to compensate for the Juneteenth off-day.
"Why don't we take away one of their days of paid leave?" Johnson asked.
Markey objected to that idea. "We shouldn't be penalizing our workers by taking away benefits, especially not in the current environment, and especially not as the price to pay for recognizing a long-overdue federal holiday," he said, alluding to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
And because that "compromise" failed, he blocked the entire effort.
The United States currently has 10 federal holidays, with the most recent addition being Martin Luther King Day in 1983. That is not a lot of federal holidays, especially when you consider the fact that the only people who officially get those days off are federal employees. Sure, private employers can give you those days off, but it is "at their discretion," just like any other form of paid leave you might have.
You know who has way more federal holidays than that? Cambodia.
Also practically every other country on earth, but Cambodia is actually tied with Iran for the most federal holidays — 27. 27 holidays in Cambodia. Plus 18 days mandated paid vacation.
Dead Kennedys - Holiday In Cambodia www.youtube.com
Cambodia is, of course, not exactly known for its fabulous labor rights situation, especially regarding child labor, slave labor, child slave labor, and the garment industry. It is therefore a tad embarrassing, one might think, that they are so far ahead of us in this regard.
Practically every other country on earth has more paid leave than we do, just in general, because we have zero mandated days off for anyone but federal employees. Afghanistan has 20 days recreational leave and 15 paid public holidays, which I only noticed first because the list was in alphabetical order, but still. Should we not be doing better than the countries we "liberate"?
Americans like to think that social justice and economic justice are two different and entirely separate things that are not reliant on each other in any kind of way, that one can be socially liberal and fiscally conservative. But Juneteenth can't be a federal holiday because one Republican senator just feels icky about giving federal workers another day off, when they currently have fewer official days off than garment workers in Cambodia — so perhaps these things are linked, after all.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. In addition to her work at Wonkette, she also has a biweekly column at Dame. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse