Sen. Johnson withdraws co-filed proposal to swap Columbus Day with Juneteenth as new federal holiday

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) said Friday, July 3, that they are withdrawing a proposed amendment that sought to swap Columbus Day and Juneteenth as federal holidays.

The senators initially filed the proposal on July 1.

According to a news release on Sen. Johnson's website, the amendment was meant to protect taxpayers from the fiscal burden of having to fund an 11th paid holiday for federal employees -- which would have been the case of another holiday was not dropped to add Juneteenth.

Separately, Sen. Johnson announced his intention to introduce a modified substitute amendment to achieve the same goal should the U.S. Senate decide to celebrate Juneteenth by giving federal employees another paid day off.

Federal employees already are given 10 paid holidays a year, and the Senate earlier this week was on track to approve the addition of Juneteenth Day as an 11th paid holiday, according to Sen. Johnson's office. The cost to taxpayers of an added federal holiday has been estimated at approximately $600 million.

“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 Sen. Johnson in a news release.

Sen. Johnson proposed swapping Columbus Day for Juneteenth because few Americans in the private sector get it as a paid holiday and, therefore, it is lightly celebrated and would not be disruptive to most Americans' schedules.

Sen. Johnson's full statements regarding the proposal and withdrawal are available online, HERE.