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1. Biden to sign bill making Juneteenth a federal holiday -

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden signed legislation Thursday establishing a new federal holiday commemorating the end of slavery, saying he believes it will go down as one of the greatest honors he has as president.
Biden signed into law a bill to make Juneteenth, or June 19, the 12th federal holiday. The House voted 415-14 on Wednesday to send the bill to Biden, while the Senate passed the bill unanimously the day before.
"This is a day of profound weight and profound power, a day in which we remember the moral stain, the terrible toll that slavery took on the country and continues to take," Biden said.
Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union soldiers brought the news of freedom to enslaved Black people in Galveston, Texas — two months after the Confederacy had surrendered. That was also about 2 1/2 years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed slaves in the Southern states.
It's the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983.
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management, which is the human resources office for the federal government, tweeted Thursday that most federal employees will observe the new holiday — Juneteenth National Independence Day — on Friday since June 19 falls on a Saturday this year.
Biden noted the overwhelming support for the bill from lawmakers in both parties.
"I hope this is the beginning of a change in the way we deal with one another," Biden said.
The White House moved quickly after the House debated the bill and then voted for it.
"Our federal holidays are purposely few in number and recognize the most important milestones," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y. "I cannot think of a more important milestone to commemorate than the end of slavery in the United States."
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, speaking next to a large poster of a Black man whose back bore massive scarring from being whipped, said she would be in Galveston on Saturday to celebrate along with Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas.
"Can you imagine?" said Jackson Lee. "I will be standing maybe taller than Sen. Cornyn, forgive me for that, because it will be such an elevation of joy."
The Senate passed the bill on Tuesday under a unanimous consent agreement that expedites the process for considering legislation. It takes just one senator's objection to block such agreements.
The vote comes as lawmakers struggle to overcome divisions on police reform legislation following the killing of George Floyd by police and as Republican state legislators push what experts say is an unprecedented number of bills aimed at restricting access to the ballot box. While Republicans say the goal is to prevent voter fraud, Democrats contend that the measures are aimed at undermining minority voting rights.
Several members of the Congressional Black Caucus went to the floor to speak in favor of the bill. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-N.J., said she viewed Juneteenth as a commemoration rather than a celebration because it represented something that was delayed in happening.
"It also reminds me of what we don't have today," she said. "And that is full access to justice, freedom and equality. All these are often in short supply as it relates to the Black community."
The bill was sponsored by Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., and had 60 co-sponsors. Democratic leaders moved quickly to bring the bill to the House floor after the Senate's vote the day before.
Some Republican lawmakers opposed the effort. Rep. Matt Rosendale, R-Mont., said creating the federal holiday was an effort to celebrate "identity politics."
"Since I believe in treating everyone equally, regardless of race, and that we should be focused on what unites us rather than our differences, I will vote no," he said in a press release.
The vast majority of states recognize Juneteenth as a holiday or have an official observance of the day, and most states hold celebrations. Juneteenth is a paid holiday for state employees in Texas, New York, Virginia and Washington.
Rep. Clay Higgins, R-La., said he would vote for the bill and that he supported the establishment of a federal holiday, but he was upset that the name of the holiday included the word "independence" rather than "emancipation."
"Why would the Democrats want to politicize this by coopting the name of our sacred holiday of Independence Day?" Higgins asked.
Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Mich., replied, "I want to say to my white colleagues on the other side: Getting your independence from being enslaved in a country is different from a country getting independence to rule themselves."
She added, "We have a responsibility to teach every generation of Black and white Americans the pride of a people who have survived, endured and succeeded in these United States of America despite slavery."
The 14 House Republicans who voted against the bill are Andy Biggs of Arizona, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Andrew Clyde of Georgia, Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee, Paul Gosar of Arizona, Ronny Jackson of Texas, Doug LaMalfa of California, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Tom McClintock of California, Ralph Norman of South Carolina, Mike Rogers of Alabama, Matt Rosendale of Montana, Chip Roy of Texas and Tom Tiffany of Wisconsin.

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2. Gaetz, Greene flaunt new paths to power, testing GOP leaders -

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congressional leaders have always faced rebels in their ranks. But Reps. Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene are presenting top House Republicans with a test of how to handle a new breed of Trump-era, social media-savvy firebrands.

3. 9 Bradley lawyers named ‘Attorneys for Justice’ -

Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP attorneys Kimberly M. Ingram, Alexandra C. Lynn, Erin Malone-Smolla, Casey L. Miller, Peter C. Sales, Edmund S. Sauer, Jeffrey W. Sheehan, Fritz Spainhour and David K. Taylor have been recognized by the Tennessee Supreme Court as 2020 “Attorneys for Justice.”

4. House Republicans elect McCarthy as leader with eye to 2020 -

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy easily won an internal party election to take over the shrunken House GOP caucus, handing the seven-term Californian a familiar role of building the party back to a majority as well as protecting President Donald Trump's agenda.

5. Health bill teeters on the brink as House OK's budget bill -

WASHINGTON (AP) — Their health care bill teetering on the brink, House Republican leaders and President Donald Trump intensified their already-fierce lobbying Wednesday to save the long-promised legislation, agreeing to changes that brought two pivotal Republicans back on board.

6. Lawmakers slam Trump for bypassing Congress on Syria strike -

WASHINGTON (AP) — Amid measured support for the U.S. cruise missile attack on a Syrian air base, some vocal Republicans and Democrats are reprimanding the White House for launching the strike without first getting congressional approval.

7. Republican foes of health care bill win praise in districts -

BUCKNER, Kentucky (AP) — One of the House Republican rebels, Kentucky Rep. Tom Massie, wasn't just "no" on the GOP health care bill to replace Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. Massie was "hell no."

8. Speaker Boehner stuns Congress, announces resignation -

WASHINGTON (AP) — With Congress in turmoil, House Speaker John Boehner abruptly informed fellow Republicans on Friday that he would resign from Congress at the end of October, stepping aside in the face of hardline conservative opposition that threatens an institutional crisis.

9. GOP-controlled House backs state medical marijuana laws -

WASHINGTON (AP) — The GOP-controlled House voted Wednesday to prevent the federal government from blocking state laws that permit the use of medical marijuana.

But lawmakers narrowly declined to direct the Justice Department not to interfere with states like Colorado and Washington that permit the recreational use of marijuana.