House quickly moves to pass Senate bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday

Protester chant near the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. statue during a Juneteenth celebration on June 19, 2020 in New York City. The House is expected to vote on legislation that would establish June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day. By Annie Grayer and Daniella Diaz, CNN

(CNN) -- The House is expected to vote Wednesday on legislation that would establish June 19 as Juneteenth National Independence Day, a US federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.

The bill is expected to pass the House after the Senate unanimously passed the legislation Tuesday. Once the bill passes, it will head to President Joe Biden's desk to be signed into law.

It was previously blocked by conservative Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin in 2020 but he dropped his objection this week despite his concerns.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer announced that the House would vote Wednesday in a tweet where he thanked the bill's bipartisan sponsors, which included Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas, Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas and Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts.

"I look forward to bringing this bill to the Floor, and urge bipartisan support," Hoyer wrote.

Jackson Lee told reporters ahead of the final passage, "what I see here today is racial divide crumbling, being crushed this day under a momentous vote that brings together people who understand the value of freedom."

Ahead of the vote, Markey acknowledged that Biden is still overseas on his first international trip, but told reporters "we will be communicating with the White House" about getting this legislation signed as soon as possible.

The legislation has gained momentum after the Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the police killing of George Floyd last year and the Democrats' takeover of the White House and Congress.

On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger announced in Galveston, Texas, the end of slavery in accordance with President Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation.

In 1980, Juneteenth became a Texas state holiday. In the decades since, every state but South Dakota came to officially commemorate Juneteenth, but only a handful of states observe it as a paid holiday.

This story has been updated with additional developments Wednesday.

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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