HELENA — Montana’s member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Matt Rosendale, was one of 14 House Republicans who voted Wednesday against a bill making June 19 a national holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States.
The bill passed the House late Wednesday 415-14 and now goes to President Joe Biden for his signature.
In a statement before the vote, Rosendale said the bill is part of a “hard-left agenda to enshrine the racial history of this country as the prime aspect of our national story.”
“They do not want to highlight all the good this country has brought to the world – flight, our Constitution, the defeat of communism and Nazism, the Internet – but, instead, our racial sins,” he continued. “America is good, and efforts to cast the country as otherwise should be opposed.”
June 19, or “Juneteenth,” began as a state holiday in Texas in 1980 and is commemorated in most states. It celebrates the day in 1865 that Union soldiers arrived in Texas to inform slaves there that they were free, two months after the end of the Civil War.
The bill passed Wednesday declares June 19 – this Saturday -- as Juneteenth National Independence Day.
Supporters of the proposal have said it symbolizes the “crumbling of a racial divide” that recognizes the wrongs of the past but celebrates working toward equal justice for all.
Rosendale said he believes in treating everyone equally and that the country should be focused on what unites us, rather than our differences.
“This is an effort by the Left to create a day out of whole cloth, to celebrate identity politics, as part of its larger efforts to make critical race theory the reigning ideology of our country,” he said.