The first attempt to make MLK Day a paid Federal Holiday came in 1979 with a bill introduced by Rep. John Conyers. It was backed by Union leaders and did received a majority of the white vote in Congress. It failed to get the 60% needed by 5 votes.
Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich were congressmen at the time and they both voted against it! Source.
A few weeks later a resolution to recognize MLK Day as a holiday (but not a paid Federal holiday), passed with nearly 80%. The US government recognizes hundreds of things as Federal holidays.
In 1983, the Congressional Black caucus tried again. This time Newt Gingrich supported the bill and encouraged fellow Republicans to vote for it.
Ron Paul still voted no. 2008 GOP presidential nominee John McCain also voted no. However McCain began apologizing for voting no as early as 1989. Source.