Senators Murray, Cantwell celebrate unanimous Senate passage of legislation to Award Congressional Gold Medal—the highest civilian honor Congress can bestow—to Spokane’s Steve Gleason


Popular bipartisan legislation will now go before the House of Representatives


Washington state native, football star, & ALS survivor Gleason has dedicated public life to promoting public health awareness, advocating for patients & families

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) applauded the Senate’s unanimous passage of 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. Introduced just two months ago, the legislation quickly garnered sufficient support to move forward. It is only the second Congressional Gold Medal bill in the current Congress to pass the Senate.

The bill must now pass the House (H.R. 5499) before heading to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

“The huge support this legislation received reflects the tremendous respect Steve has garnered in the Senate and across the nation throughout his years of exemplary athleticism and passionate advocacy for ALS survivors and their families,” said Senator Murray in support of the legislation. “I’ve said before that few people make Washington state as proud as Spokane’s own Steve Gleason, and I am delighted that our legislation to award Steve the Congressional Gold Medal, Congress’ highest honor, has taken another major step toward the end zone.” (Watch video of Senator Murray’s floor speech here.)

“It is befitting of Steve’s incredible work raising awareness for ALS and improving the lives of so many that he has received unanimous support in the Senate for a Congressional Gold Medal. Through his public advocacy and collaboration with Congress and his leadership of the Gleason Institute, Steve has helped us improve the lives of countless individuals who have been impacted by this disease. Steve is such an inspiration to the people of Spokane, throughout the state of Washington, and across the United States. We are all Team Gleason,” said Senator Cantwell. (Watch video of Senator Cantwell’s floor speech here.)

The legislation 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.

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.