(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) announced their bipartisan legislation (S. 2652) to award Washington state native, ALS champion, and former New Orleans Saints star Steve Gleason with the Congressional Gold Medal is now supported by 69 senators—enough for the legislation to move forward in the Senate. It’s only the second Congressional Gold Medal bill in the current Congress to reach this level of support in the Senate.
“The Congressional Gold Medal is an honor reserved for Americans who have made an indelible impact on our nation and culture through their service. Steve Gleason has been a passionate warrior since his days on the football field, and has carried that dedication through to his tireless advocacy on behalf of ALS survivors and their families, said Senator Murray. “Steve and his Foundation have inspired hope in countless individuals in Washington state and throughout our nation, and I’m proud to stand with so many of my colleagues to honor Steve’s incredible legacy with this well-deserved recognition.”
“The amount of support we’ve gathered is a testament to Steve’s perseverance, determination, unbreakable spirit, and his work to improve the lives of countless people living with ALS,” said Senator Cantwell.
The legislation, introduced less than two months ago, would recognize Gleason for his work through the Gleason Initiative Foundation to provide individuals with neuromuscular diseases or injuries with the assistance they need to thrive, his advocacy for federal legislation ensuring people living with diseases such as ALS have access to speech generating devices, and his leadership in bringing together the single largest coordinated and collaborative ALS research project in the world.
In addition to Senators Murray and Cantwell, Senators cosponsoring the legislation include Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), John Kennedy (R-LA), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), John Barrasso (R-WY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), John Boozman (R-AR), Richard Burr (R-NC), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Bob Casey (D-PA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Christopher Coons (D-DE), John Cornyn (R-TX), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Steve Daines (R-MT), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), John Hoeven (R-ND), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), James Inhofe (R-OK), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Doug Jones (D-AL), Angus King, Jr. (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Edward Markey (D-MA), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Bill Nelson (D-FL), David Perdue (R-GA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Rob Portman (R-OH), Jack Reed (D-RI), James Risch (R-ID), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Jon Tester (D-MT), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Todd Young (R-IN).
The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor Congress can bestow. Before a medal is awarded, the legislation must be passed by the House and Senate and signed into law by the president.
Previous recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal include Orville and Wilbur Wright, Thomas Edison, Robert Frost, Bob Hope, Walt Disney, Roberto Clemente, Sir Winston Churchill, John Wayne, the 1980 U.S. Summer Olympic Team, Joe Louis, Jesse Owens, Ruth and Billy Graham, Frank Sinatra, Mother Teresa, Rosa Parks, Jackie Robinson, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King, Byron Nelson, Arnold Palmer, and Jack Nicklaus.