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Two days before the nation celebrated Juneteenth, the bipartisan bill that recognized June 19 as a federal holiday achieved near unanimous passage as it was voted on in the House.
Among its dissenters was Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Montana, who joined 13 other members in voting against the bill. After casting his nay vote, Rosendale stated is rationale on Twitter:
"I voted against a bill that would make Juneteenth National Independence Day a federal holiday. One of 14 Republicans to do so. ... (The left’s) intent is to replace the Fourth of July with this new day, one that will inevitably focus on America's darkest moments," Rosendale tweeted.
Hours later, the sentiment was echoed on Fox News by Tucker Carlson, who said on his June 16 show that "starting this Saturday, our country will get a new Independence Day, to supplant the old one."
Carlson then took a shot at U.S. Sen. John Cornyn for sponsoring the bill, calling Cornyn a "supposedly conservative senator from Texas" and saying that the bill contributes to "radical social change."
The Juneteenth National Independence Day Act was carried by Cornyn and U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Houston. But despite its Texas origins, the bill drew opposition from some of the state’s own Republicans. Rep. Ronny Jackson, R-Amarillo, said he doesn't support "more days off for federal employees." Rep. Chip Roy, a Hays County Republican, voted against the bill arguing that the name should be Juneteenth National Emancipation Day — not Juneteenth National Independence Day.
"This name needlessly divides our nation on a matter that should instead bring us together by creating a separate Independence Day based on the color of one’s skin," Roy argued.
Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Houston, did not cast a vote.
Arguments of divisiveness aside, does the bill that recognizes Juneteenth as a federal holiday "replace" or "supplant" the Fourth of July Holiday, as Rosendale and Carlson claim?
A spokesperson for Fox News didn’t respond to our questions asking for rationale behind Carlson’s statement.
Rosendale’s spokesperson pointed to one example: a photo published by the Billings Gazette showing a Black man wearing a shirt the read "Juneteenth 1865" beneath "July 4th" crossed out in red ink.
"Thanks for proving my point," Rosendale said in a tweet highlighting the photo.
Another photo showing the full text of the man’s shirt shows that it also read, "Because my ancestors weren’t free in 1776."
Writing for the Washington Examiner, Rosendale also pointed to a second example proving his replacement theory. He said that the city of Evanston, Ill. "has canceled its Fourth of July parade and replaced it with a gay pride parade and Juneteenth parade."
The event's official website says that the Trustees of the Evanston Fourth of July Association voted to cancel July Fourth celebrations "based on concern for public health due to the unpredictability of the pandemic’s impact, vaccination rates, and in cooperation with our local authorities."
One trustee told a local news station that the decision to cancel was made in March.
"We made the decision in March based on the information that we had at that time," Trustee Jamie Black told Fox 6-TV. "There are deadlines for permits and to secure the fireworks, as well as taking applications for the parade that happen early in the year."
Nowhere in the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act does it mention replacing the Fourth of July federal holiday. The single-page act amends a section of Title 5 of the U.S. Code by inserting ‘‘Juneteenth National Independence Day, June 19" after Memorial Day.
"The bill has nothing to do with the federal holiday on July 4th and doesn’t address it legislatively in any way. It only designates June 19th as ‘Juneteenth National Independence Day,’ in addition to the other existing federal holidays. In other words, it simply adds a holiday; it does not supplant or eliminate an existing one at the same time," Cornyn’s spokesperson Drew Brandewie said.
In a tweet, Cornyn also called the rationale behind Rosendale’s opposition to the bill "kooky."
The U.S. Senate passed the bill unanimously.
Rosendale said in a June 16 tweet that the intent of the Juneteenth National Independence Day Act is to "replace the Fourth of July." His claim was later echoed on Fox News by Tucker Carlson who said that the act will create "a new Independence Day, to supplant the old one."
The act only creates a new federal holiday on June 19 — the day that Union soldiers arrived in Galveston in 1865 to spread the news that slavery had been abolished. All other federal holidays are left in place.
We rate this claim Pants on Fire.
Congress.gov, S.475 - Juneteenth National Independence Day Act, accessed June 24, 2021
Fox News, Tucker Carlson: The mayor of Chicago is demented, she needs help, June 16, 2021
Tweets, @RepRosendale, June 16, 2021
Texas Tribune, Bipartisan effort led by Texans to make Juneteenth a federal holiday passes Congress, June 16, 2021
U.S. House of Representatives Clerk, Roll Call 170 | Bill Number: S. 475, June 16, 2021
Times Record News, Rep. Ronny Jackson votes against Juneteenth bill, June 18, 2021
Emails with Sen. John Cornyn spokesperson Drew Brandewie, June 17, 2021
Emails with Rep. Matt Rosendale spokesperson Harry Fones, June 22-24, 2021
Billings Gazette, Juneteenth celebrated in South Park as federal holiday for the first time, June 19, 2021
Washington Examiner, What to the conservative is Juneteenth? June 24, 2021
Evanston Fourth of July Association, 2021 Virtual 4th of July Celebration, accessed June 24, 2021
Tweets, @JohnCornyn, June 16, 2021
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