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Columbus Day Out, Juneteenth In: GOP Senators Look to Make Federal Holiday Adjustment

America is always striving to better herself, and this could be a grand step in that direction.

As the nation continues to grapple with the racial inequality that has seemingly always existed in American society, a new day is dawning here in the United States.

This land, where all are created equal, is working hard to recognize and respond to the sins of the past – even those that weren’t committed by Americans themselves.  A frequent target of this ire has been Christopher Columbus, an Italian explorer credited with accidentally “discovering” America, and then playing an integral role in an ugly genocide of its native people.

Statues dedicated to the explorer have been coming down around the country, and school curriculums have long adjusted to reveal the truth about Columbus’ good and bad deeds.

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Now it appears as though his federal holiday could be sailing off into the sunset as well, replaced by Juneteenth.

Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and James Lankford (R-OK) backed a proposal on Wednesday to replace Columbus Day with Juneteenth as a federal holiday.

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Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) has sponsored a bipartisan bill that would make Juneteenth, a day that celebrates the end of slavery, a federal holiday. Cornyn’s bill has engendered some backlash from Republicans worried about the cost of adding another federal paid holiday.

But there was a solution…

To offset the cost of adding Juneteenth as a federal holiday, Johnson proposed eliminating Columbus Day as a national holiday. He contended that few people celebrate Columbus Day, which marks Christopher Columbus’ landing in the Americas in 1492.

“I’m just saying let’s replace it with something,” Johnson said. “I chose Columbus Day just because it’s probably the most lightly celebrated and less disruptive to anybody’s schedule.”

Johnson added that he is “happy to celebrate the emancipation with a national holiday, but I just don’t think we should be, when we’re already blowing a hole in the budget right now, offering another paid day off for federal employees.”

Not everyone was onboard, however, with Cornyn himself pushing back against the idea of eliminating Columbus Day.

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