Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson pulled back from his proposal with fellow Republican Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma last week to yank Columbus Day from the federal holiday calendar in exchange for Juneteenth following conservative outcry over the cancelation of the world famous explorer.
“I didn’t want to end the celebration of Columbus Day,” Johnson told The Federalist Tuesday. “My entire intent was simply not give federal workers an 11th day off.”
Johnson said the proposal, which came in the form of an amendment to an existing piece of bipartisan legislation last month to solidify Juneteenth as an 11th federal holiday reeling towards the president’s desk with 47 cosponsors, was merely a product of haste introduced to prompt discussion on whether to give federal workers an 11th day off at the expense of the taxpayer.
“Sponsors didn’t even know the score of their own bill,” Johnson complained as senators prepared to rush passage of a new federal holiday. Outside budget group Open The Books estimates the holiday would cost taxpayers upwards of an additional $524 million. “I thought I was being fiscally conservative.”
Johnson said he asked his team to come up with something quick to slow the passage of the legislation without forcing the senator to go on the Senate floor and speak out against celebrating the emancipation of slaves.
“We really only had hours to decide this,” Johnson said, emphasizing his choice to swap out Columbus Day as opposed to any other federal holiday since “Columbus Day is the federal holiday where most of America works.”
Johnson and Lankford’s push to dismantle Columbus Day as left-wing mobs tear down statues of the legendary trailblazer however, put the two senators in the same camp as the anarchists purging the nation’s history in pursuit of a new world order, a characterization that Johnson adamantly rejected.
“I tried to make that pretty clear,” Johnson said, whose staff released statements claiming the senators’ amendment tarnishing Columbus’ legacy with the abolition of the federal holiday was introduced for the sole purpose of saving the American taxpayer.
“Obviously, it wasn’t taken that way.”
On Wednesday, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson slammed the pair of Republican senators for bowing to the anarchal mob in their proposal to nullify Columbus Day as statues of the explorer fall.
“It’s easier to give them what they want, so that’s what they’re doing,” Carlson said.
The segment offended Johnson, who described himself as a “devoted follower” of the prime time host and was “disappointed that he didn’t talk to me first before he went on air and did what he did.”
Following criticism, Johnson and Lankford pulled back from their proposal to terminate Columbus Day with the replacement of Juneteenth. Jonhson instead is now pushing legislation that seeks to reduce the number of paid-leave days for federal workers.
“Although the substitute amendment I offered to the Juneteenth holiday bill had the desired effect of slowing down the passage of a new paid day off for federal workers, many were not happy with the proposal to swap a holiday celebrating emancipation with Columbus Day,” Johnson said in a statement introducing the new modified proposal. “I suggested Columbus Day for the swap because few Americans in the private sector get it as a paid holiday, and as a result, it is lightly celebrated, and would not be disruptive to most Americans’ schedules. I was in no way deprecating Christopher Columbus’ achievements.”
Johnson told The Federalist he stands opposed to mobs attempting to cancel Columbus, and added he hoped in his initial proposal the holiday would remain on Americans’ own calendars without offering federal employees the day off.