President Joe Biden signs Health Care By-Laws in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on January 28, 2021.

Almond Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

President Joe Biden is due to sign a bill Thursday that will make Juniteenth, the date that marks the end of slavery in the United States, a federal holiday.

The White House signing event at 3:30 p.m. ET takes place two days prior to June 15, which falls on June 19 of each year. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are due to make remarks in the East Room, according to the White House.

National Independence Day in June will be the 12th public holiday and the first new since then-President Ronald Reagan signed Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 1983.

Juniteenth marks the date the last of the enslaved African Americans were granted their freedom. On that day in 1865, Union soldiers, led by General Gordon Granger, arrived in the coastal city of Galveston, Texas to deliver General Order No. 3 that officially ended slavery in the state.

The final act of liberation came months after the Confederate Army’s surrender ended the Civil War and more than two years after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

Lincoln was assassinated on April 15, 1865, two months before his proclamation reached Texas.

The Holiday Bill was passed with overwhelming support in both houses of Congress this week. The Senate unanimously approved the bill Tuesday night, and the House of Representatives passed it by 415 votes to 14. The only votes against the law came from the Republicans.

Prior to the House vote, some GOP lawmakers complained about the name of the holiday and others expressed concern about the cost of another federal workforce day off. Some also railed against the Democrats for putting the bill to the vote without first allowing the committees to review the law and propose changes.

Still, most of the House Republicans, even those who opposed parts of the bill, voted in favor.

The Juniteenth Bill was sponsored in the Senate by Edward Markey, D-Mass, and the House version, sponsored by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, was endorsed by 166 legislators.

The 14 votes against were:

  • Rep Mo Brooks, R-Ala.
  • Rep Andy Biggs, R-Ariz.
  • Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn.
  • Rep Tom Tiffany, R-Wis.
  • Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif.
  • Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala.
  • Rep. Ralph Norman, RS.C.
  • Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas
  • Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz.
  • Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif.
  • Rep Matt Rosendale, R-Mont.
  • Rep Ronny Jackson, R-Texas
  • Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky.
  • Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga.