Congressman Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Congressman Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) announced Tuesday that legislation to honor Israeli President Shimon Peres with the Congressional Gold Medal (H.R. 2939) passed the House of Representatives by voice vote. The bill was introduced last year by Rep. Kennedy and Rep. Franks in the House and Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Michael Bennet (D-CO) in the Senate. The Senate passed a companion version of the bill in March by unanimous consent.
The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian decoration in the United States, awarded to an individual who performs an outstanding deed or act of service to the security, prosperity, and national interest of the United States. This Congressional Gold Medal would be the first awarded to a sitting president of Israel.
“For over 70 years, President Shimon Peres has dedicated himself to the enduring bond that unites Israel and the United States,” said Congressman Kennedy. “There has been no greater champion for our shared values and defender of our shared interests. The passage of this bill signifies that Congress and the American people stand strong in our support of Israel and her people. In recognition of his tireless efforts and of the friendship embedded deeply between our two countries, I am honored to join my colleagues in moving this bipartisan legislation forward.”
Other historic recipients of this award include Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Elie Wiesel, and Aung San Suu Kyii, the Burmese democracy activist. Among the medal recipients four are also Nobel peace laureates.
“On behalf of my colleagues Stanley Treitel, Lee Samson, Robert Rechnitz, Hassan Ali bin Ali, and Joe Stamm, I’d like to thank Congressman Kennedy and Congressman Franks for introducing this legislation and ensuring its passage. The U.S. Israeli relationship has been greatly enhanced by this leadership and we look forward to their continued leadership for decades to come,” said Ezra Friedlander, CEO of The Friedlander Group. Friedlander spearheaded the establishment of the Shimon Peres Congressional Gold Medal Commemoration Committee.