Congressional Gold Medals: Background, Legislative Process, and Issues for Congress

Senators and Representatives are frequently asked to support or sponsor proposals recognizing historic events and outstanding achievements by individuals or institutions. Among the various forms of recognition that Congress bestows, the Congressional Gold Medal is often considered the most distinguished. Through this venerable tradition—the occasional commissioning of individually struck gold medals in its name—Congress has expressed public gratitude on behalf of the nation for distinguished contributions for more than two centuries. Since 1776, this award, which initially was bestowed on military leaders, has also been given to such diverse individuals as Sir Winston Churchill and Bob Hope, George Washington and Robert Frost, Joe Louis and Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Congressional gold medal legislation generally has a specific format. Once a gold medal is authorized, it follows a specific process for design, minting, and awarding. This process includes consultation and recommendations by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Commission (CCAC) and the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), pursuant to any statutory instructions, before the Secretary of the Treasury makes the final decision on a gold medal’s design. Once the medal has been struck, a ceremony will often be scheduled to formally award the medal to the recipient.

In recent years, the number of gold medals awarded has increased and some have expressed interest in examining the gold medal awarding process. Should Congress want to make such changes, several individual and institutional options might be available. The individual options include decisions made by Members of Congress as to what individual or groups might be honored; potential specification of gold medal design elements; and where gold medals for groups might be housed once the award is made. The institutional options could include House, Senate, or committee rules for the consideration of gold medal legislation and whether statutory standards on the number of gold medals issued per year or per Congress might be established for gold medals.

Congressional Gold Medals: Background, Legislative Process, and Issues for Congress

Updated September 25, 2018 (R45101)
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Contents

Summary

Senators and Representatives are frequently asked to support or sponsor proposals recognizing historic events and outstanding achievements by individuals or institutions. Among the various forms of recognition that Congress bestows, the Congressional Gold Medal is often considered the most distinguished. Through this venerable tradition—the occasional commissioning of individually struck gold medals in its name—Congress has expressed public gratitude on behalf of the nation for distinguished contributions for more than two centuries. Since 1776, this award, which initially was bestowed on military leaders, has also been given to such diverse individuals as Sir Winston Churchill and Bob Hope, George Washington and Robert Frost, Joe Louis and Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Congressional gold medal legislation generally has a specific format. Once a gold medal is authorized, it follows a specific process for design, minting, and awarding. This process includes consultation and recommendations by the Citizens Coinage Advisory Commission (CCAC) and the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA), pursuant to any statutory instructions, before the Secretary of the Treasury makes the final decision on a gold medal's design. Once the medal has been struck, a ceremony will often be scheduled to formally award the medal to the recipient.

In recent years, the number of gold medals awarded has increased and some have expressed interest in examining the gold medal awarding process. Should Congress want to make such changes, several individual and institutional options might be available. The individual options include decisions made by Members of Congress as to what individual or groups might be honored; potential specification of gold medal design elements; and where gold medals for groups might be housed once the award is made. The institutional options could include House, Senate, or committee rules for the consideration of gold medal legislation and whether statutory standards on the number of gold medals issued per year or per Congress might be established for gold medals.


Introduction

Since the late 1700s, Congress has expressed public gratitude to individuals and groups by awarding medals and other similar decorations.1 The first Congressional Gold Medals were issued by the Continental Congress. Since that time, Congress has awarded gold medals to express public gratitude for distinguished contributions, dramatize the virtues of patriotism, and perpetuate the remembrance of great events. This tradition of authorizing individually struck gold medals bearing the portraits or actions of honorees is rich with history.

Although Congress has approved legislation stipulating specific requirements for numerous other awards and decorations, there are no permanent statutory provisions specifically relating to the creation of Congressional Gold Medals. When such an award has been deemed appropriate, Congress has, by special action, provided for the creation of a personalized medal to be given in its name.2

Early Practices

The first Congressional Gold Medals were issued by the Continental Congress. As initially conceived, Congressional Gold Medals were awards "imbued with the conviction that only the very highest achievements [were] entitled to such a distinction, and that the value of a reward is enhanced by its rarity!"3 At that time, the Continental Congress concluded there was no better way to honor "and preserve the memory of illustrious characters and splendid events than medals—whether we take into consideration the imperishable nature of the substance whence they are formed, the facility of multiplying copies, or the practice of depositing them in the cabinets of the curious."4 The first gold medals were struck in Paris under the direction of Colonel David Humphrey.5

Following a long-standing historical practice, Congress commissioned gold medals as tributes for what were considered to be the most distinguished achievements. Silver and bronze medals, and ceremonial swords, were awarded for less eminent, but still notable, accomplishments.6 However, only the gold medal has been continuously awarded to the present day.

The first Congressional Gold Medal was authorized on March 25, 1776, for George Washington, then commander of the Continental Army, for his "wise and spirited conduct" in bringing about British evacuation of Boston.7 During the next 12 years, the Continental Congress authorized an additional six gold medals for Revolutionary military leaders. Table 1 lists the Congressional Gold Medals issued by the Continental Congress, the year, the awardee, and the reason the medal was authorized.

Table 1. Congressional Gold Medals Issued by the Continental Congress, 1776-1787

Year

Awardee

Reason

1776

General George Washington

"Wise and spirited conduct" in bringing about British evacuation of Bostona

1777

Major General Horatio Gates

"Brave and successful efforts" in bringing about the surrender of the British Army at Saratogab

1779

Major General Anthony Wayne

Courageous assault on the British at Stony Point, NYc

1779

Major Henry Lee

Skill and bravery exhibited against the British at Paulus Hook, NJd

1781

Brigadier General [author name scrubbed]

Gallant efforts in South Carolina during 1781e

1781

Major General Nathaniel Greene

Gallant efforts in South Carolina during 1781f

1787

John Paul Jones

"Valor and brilliant services" in capturing the Serapisg

Source: CRS analysis of Congressional Gold Medal legislation.

Notes: For discussions of these medals, see Theodore T. Belote, "War Medals of the American Revolution," Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine, vol. 55, September 1921, pp. 487-499; Boyd, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 16, pp. xxxv-xli, 53-66; Julian, Medals of the United States Mint, pp. 114-117, 120, 122, 149; Labatt, The Medallic History of the United States, vol. 1, pp. 1-21, 29-36, 40-45, 50-56, 97-112; Martha L. Turner, "Commemorative Medals of the American Revolution and the War of 1812," Numismatist, vol. 88, January 1975, pp. 6-15.

a. U.S. Continental Congress, Journals of the Continental Congress: 1774-1789, vol. 4, March 25, 1776, p. 234. Brief histories of George Washington's gold medal are found in Georgia Stamm Chamberlain, American Medals and Medalists (Annandale, VA: Designed and Lithographed by the Turnpike Press, Inc., 1963), pp. 16-17; R.W. Julian, Medals of the United States Mint: The First Century 1792-1892 (El Cajon, CA: The Token and Medal Society, Inc., 1977), pp. 114-115.

b. Journals of the Continental Congress, vol. 9, November 4, 1777, pp. 861-862.

c. Journals of the Continental Congress, vol. 14, July 26, 1779, p. 890.

d. Journals of the Continental Congress, vol. 15, September 24, 1779, p. 1099.

e. Journals of the Continental Congress, vol. 19, January 17, 1781, pp. 246-247.

f. Journals of the Continental Congress, vol. 21, October 19, 1781, pp. 1083-1085.

g. Journals of the Continental Congress, vol. 33, October 16, 1787, p. 687.

The gold medal conferred upon Major Henry "Light Horse Harry" Lee for his "remarkable prudence" and "bravery" during the surprise raid of Paulus Hook, NJ, was the first to be struck in the United States.8

19th Century Recipients

Following the ratification of the Constitution, the first two Congressional Gold Medals were given in 1800 to Captain Thomas Truxtun for his gallant effort during the action between the U.S. frigate Constellation and the French ship La Vengeance and in 1805 to Commodore Edward Preble for gallantry and good conduct during the War with Tripoli.9 After those medals were awarded, Congress issued gold medals primarily for military achievements in the War of 1812 and the Mexican War. All told, 27 gold medals were awarded for the War of 1812,10 and a series of medals were awarded for expeditions led by Major General Zachary Taylor and Major General Winfield Scott in the Mexican War. General Taylor received three Congressional Gold Medals,11 while General Scott received one.12

In 1854, Congress began to broaden the scope of activities that merited a Congressional Gold Medal. This change was prompted by Commander Duncan N. Ingraham of the USS St. Louis's rescue of Martin Koszta from illegal seizure and imprisonment about the Austrian war-brig Hussar.13 Subsequently, gold medals were issued to several individuals recognized for nonmilitary heroic activities or their work in specific fields. For example, in 1864 Cornelius Vanderbilt was honored for donating a steamship to the United States;14 in 1867 Cyrus W. Field was praised for his work in the laying of the transatlantic cable;15 and Private George F. Robinson was awarded for saving Secretary of State William H. Seward from an assassination attempt.16 At this time, Congress also established the Medal of Honor as a military award and increasingly focused the Congressional Gold Medal as an award for individuals and events.17

20th and 21st Century Recipients

In the 20th and 21st centuries, Congress continued to broaden the scope of Congressional Gold Medals to include recognition of excellence in such varied fields as the arts, athletics, aviation, diplomacy, entertainment, exploration, medicine, politics, religion, and science. Several of the following individuals were the first in their specialties to be awarded gold medals:

  • Composer George M. Cohan (1936) was the first entertainer to receive a gold medal, for his patriotic songs "Over There" and "A Grand Old Flag."18
  • Wilbur and Orville Wright (1909) were the first aeronautical or space pioneers to receive a gold medal, for their achievements in demonstrating to the world the potential of aerial navigation.19
  • Lincoln Ellsworth (1926) was the first explorer honored, for his polar flight in 1925 and transpolar flight in 1926.20
  • Major Walter Reed and his associates (1928) were the first scientists honored, for discovering the cause and means of transmission of yellow fever in 1921.21
  • Vice President Alben W. Barkley (1949) was the first political honoree.22

In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, numerous other individuals have been honored for a variety of contributions including civil rights activism and humanitarian contributions.23 For a complete list of Congressional Gold Medal recipients since 1776, see the Appendix.

Authorizing Congressional Gold Medals

Once a Congressional Gold Medal bill is introduced, it is typically referred to the House Committee on Financial Services or the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs.24 The process for considering legislation varies between the House and Senate.

House of Representatives

In the House, there are currently no chamber or committee rules regarding the procedures for gold medal bills. Rule 28(a)(7) of the House Republican Conference, however, prohibits the Republican leader from scheduling any bill or resolution for consideration under suspension of the rules25 which directs the Secretary of the Treasury to strike a Congressional Gold Medal unless

  • the recipient is a natural person;
  • the recipient has performed an achievement that has an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized as a major achievement in the recipient's field long after the achievement;
  • the recipient has not received a medal previously for the same or substantially the same achievement;
  • the recipient is living or, if deceased, has not been deceased for less than 5 years or more than 25 years; and
  • the achievements were performed in the recipient's field of endeavor, and represent either a lifetime of continuous superior achievements or a single achievement so significant that the recipient is recognized and acclaimed by others in the same field, as evidenced by the recipient having received the highest honors in the field.26

The rules of the House Republican Conference also place an indirect restriction on the number of gold medals that may be awarded annually. Rule 28(a)(7)(F) prohibits the Republican leader from scheduling, or requesting to have scheduled, any bill for consideration under suspension of the rules which "directs the Secretary of the Treasury to strike a Congressional Gold Medal ...[that causes] the total number of measures authorizing the striking of such medals in that Congress to substantially exceed the average number of such measures enacted in prior Congresses."27

A waiver on the restriction can be granted by the majority of the elected leadership of the conference. Note that these party conference rules provide parameters placed by the party members on their leaders' scheduling prerogatives; since the restrictions are not reflected in chamber rules, they cannot be enforced through points of order on the floor.28 The House could also consider an otherwise-prohibited bill under an alternative procedure, such as a special rule.29 However, gold medal legislation generally appears to be considered under suspension of the rules in the House.

Senate

In the Senate, the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee in the 115th Congress requires that at least 67 Senators cosponsor any Congressional Gold Medal bill before being considered by the committee.30 This committee rule presumably does not formally preclude committee consideration of a House bill referred to it.31 The committee rule also does not prevent the Senate from considering or passing gold medal legislation. Referred bills may be brought to the floor without committee consideration; in other cases, a bill may avoid being referred to committee at all.32 In current practice, many enacted gold medal bills receive no formal committee consideration. Rather, the Senate often discharges the committee of the bill by unanimous consent; however, it appears that this discharge practice only occurs after the requisite number of cosponsors sign on to a Senate bill.

Other Statutory Limitations

Although Congress has approved legislation stipulating requirements for numerous other awards and decorations,33 there are no permanent statutory provisions specifically relating to the creation of Congressional Gold Medals. When a Congressional Gold Medal has been deemed appropriate, Congress has, by legislative action, provided for the creation of a medal on an ad hoc basis. Additionally, there is no statutory limit on the number of Congressional Gold Medals that may be struck in a given year.

Sample Congressional Gold Medal Language

Congressional Gold Medal legislation generally has certain features, including

  • findings that summarize the subject's history and importance;
  • specifications for awarding the medal;
  • instructions, if any, for the medal's design and striking;
  • permission to mint and sell duplicates; and
  • certification that medals are minted pursuant to existing requirements for national medals (5 U.S.C. §5111).

Findings

Congressional Gold Medal legislation typically includes a section of findings. These often include historical facts about the people or groups being awarded the medal. For example, the legislation to authorize the Congressional Gold Medal to the World War II members of the "Doolittle Tokyo Raiders" stated the following:

SECTION 1. FINDINGS.

Congress finds that—

(1) on April 18, 1942, the brave men of the 17th Bombardment Group (Medium) became known as the "Doolittle Tokyo Raiders" for outstanding heroism, valor, skill, and service to the United States in conducting the bombings of Tokyo;

(2) 80 brave American aircraft crewmen, led by Lieutenant Colonel James Doolittle, volunteered for an "extremely hazardous mission", without knowing the target, location, or assignment, and willingly put their lives in harm's way, risking death, capture, and torture;

(3) the conduct of medium bomber operations from a Navy aircraft carrier under combat conditions had never before been attempted;

(4) after the discovery of the USS Hornet by Japanese picket ships 170 miles further away from the prearranged launch point, the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders proceeded to take off 670 miles from the coast of Japan;

(5) by launching more than 100 miles beyond the distance considered to be minimally safe for the mission, the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders deliberately accepted the risk that the B-25s might not have enough fuel to reach the designated air-fields in China on return;

(6) the additional launch distance greatly increased the risk of crash landing in Japanese occupied China, exposing the crews to higher probability of death, injury, or capture;

(7) because of that deliberate choice, after bombing their targets in Japan, low on fuel and in setting night and deteriorating weather, none of the 16 airplanes reached the prearranged Chinese airfields;

(8) of the 80 Doolittle Tokyo Raiders who launched on the raid, 8 were captured, 2 died in the crash, and 70 returned to the United States;

(9) of the 8 captured Doolittle Tokyo Raiders, 3 were executed and 1 died of disease; and

(10) there were only 5 surviving members of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders as of February 2013.34

Medal Presentation, Design, and Striking

Congressional Gold Medal legislation typically includes a section that provides details on the presentation, design, and striking of the medal. For example, the legislation to authorize the Congressional Gold Medal to the Foot Soldiers who participated in Bloody Sunday, Turnaround Tuesday, or the final Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March in March of 1965 stated the following:

SEC. 2. CONGRESSIONAL GOLD MEDAL.

(a) Presentation Authorized.—The Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate shall make appropriate arrangements for the presentation, on behalf of Congress, of a gold medal of appropriate design to the Foot Soldiers who participated in Bloody Sunday, Turnaround Tuesday, or the final Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March during March of 1965, which served as a catalyst for the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

(b) Design and Striking.—For purposes of the presentation referred to in subsection (a), the Secretary of the Treasury (referred to in this Act as the "Secretary") shall strike a gold medal with suitable emblems, devices, and inscriptions to be determined by the Secretary.35

Additionally, this section can contain specific instructions to the Smithsonian, when it is the recipient of the physical gold medal, on its display and availability to be loaned to other institutions. For example, the legislation authorizing the American Fighter Aces Congressional Gold Medal stated the following:

(c) Smithsonian Institution.—

(1) In general.—Following the award of the gold medal in honor of the American Fighter Aces, the gold medal shall be given to the Smithsonian Institution, where it will be available for display as appropriate and available for research.

(2) Sense of the Congress.—It is the sense of the Congress that the Smithsonian Institution should make the gold medal awarded pursuant to this Act available for display elsewhere, particularly at appropriate locations associated with the American Fighter Aces, and that preference should be given to locations affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution.36

Duplicate Medals

Gold medal legislation also generally authorizes the Secretary of the Treasury to strike and sell duplicate medals in bronze. The duplicates are generally sold in two sizes: 1.5 inches and 3 inches. Duplicates are sold at a price which allows the U.S. Mint to cover the cost of striking the gold medal. For example, legislation authorizing the 65th Infantry Regiment, known as the Borinqueneers, Congressional Gold Medal stated the following:

SEC. 3. DUPLICATE MEDALS.

Under such regulations as the Secretary may prescribe, the Secretary may strike and sell duplicates in bronze of the gold medal struck under section 2, at a price sufficient to cover the costs of the medals, including labor, materials, dies, use of machinery, and overhead expenses.37

Status of Medals

Gold medal legislation generally contains a statement that these awards are considered as national medals for the purpose of the U.S. Mint's statutory requirements for producing medals. For example, legislation authorizing the Montford Point Marines Congressional Gold Medal stated the following:

SEC. 4. NATIONAL MEDALS.

Medals struck pursuant to this Act are National medals for purposes of chapter 51 of title 31, United States Code.38

Authorization of Appropriations; Proceeds

In some cases, authorizing legislation includes language authorizing appropriations for a Congressional Gold Medal. In these examples, Congress has authorized a specific sum from the United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund to pay for the cost of the medal. In cases where the authorization of appropriations is provided, a provision requiring that proceeds from the sale of duplicates be deposited in the same Fund is generally included. For example, legislation authorizing the Women Airforce Service Pilots Congressional Gold Medal stated the following:

SEC. 5. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS; PROCEEDS OF SALE.

(a) Authorization of Appropriations.—There is authorized to be charged against the United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund, an amount not to exceed $30,000 to pay for the cost of the medal authorized under section 2.

(b) Proceeds of Sale.—Amounts received from the sale of duplicate bronze medals under section 3 shall be deposited in the United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund.39

Design of Medals

Congressional Gold Medal designs vary for each issuance. In general, the authorizing legislation provides that the Secretary of the Treasury "shall strike a gold medal with suitable emblems, devices, and inscriptions, to be determined by the Secretary."40 When designing a Congressional Gold Medal, the Secretary consults with the Citizens Coinage Advisory Commission (CCAC) and the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) before determining the final design.

Citizens Coinage Advisory Commission

Established by P.L. 108-15,41 the CCAC advises the Secretary of the Treasury on theme and design of all U.S. coins and medals. For Congressional Gold Medals, the CCAC advises the Secretary "on any theme or design proposals relating to ... Congressional Gold Medals."42

The CCAC consists of 11 members appointed by the Secretary of the Treasury, with four persons appointed upon the recommendation of the congressional leadership (one each by the Speaker of the House, the House minority leader, the Senate majority leader, and the Senate minority leader).43 The CCAC meets several times each year to consider design suggestions for coins and medals. For each coin considered, the CCAC provides advice to the Secretary "on thematic, technical, and design issues related to the production of coins."44 Recommendations are then published to the committee's website, at http://www.ccac.gov.

U.S. Commission of Fine Arts

In tandem with recommendations received from the CCAC, the U.S. Mint also seeks a recommendation from the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts. Established in 1910, the CFA advises "upon the location of statues, fountains, and monuments in the public squares, streets, and parks in the District of Columbia; the selection of models for statues, fountains, and monuments erected under the authority of the Federal Government; the selection of artists; and questions of art generally when required to do so by the President or a committee of Congress."45 This includes review of commemorative coins when they are presented by the U.S. Mint and the issuance of recommendations for a coin's design.

For example, in March 2014, the U.S. Mint presented several alternative designs for the First Special Service Force Congressional Gold Medal. In a letter to the U.S. Mint, the CFA provided recommendations on the design for the gold medal. CFA's letter stated the following:

27 March 2014

Dear Mr. Peterson:

In its meeting of 20 March, the Commission of Fine Arts reviewed alternative designs for a Congressional Gold Medal honoring the First Special Service Force. The Commission members present provided the following recommendations.

For the obverse, the Commission members recommended alternative #8, commenting on its strong three−dimensional character and clear compositional elements. They recommended reverse #2, supporting the reported recommendation of the Citizens Coinage Advisory Commission, due to the compatibility of its composition with the recommended obverse.

As there was not a quorum for the review of the submission, these recommendations will be placed on the administrative agenda for confirmation at the Commission's meeting of 17 April. As always, the staff is available to assist you with future submissions.

Sincerely,

/s/Thomas E. Luebke, FAIA

Secretary46

U.S. Mint

After receiving advice from the CCAC and the CFA, the Secretary of the Treasury, through the U.S. Mint, finalizes the coin's design and schedules it for production. Figure 1 shows the final design of two Congressional Gold Medals: the New Frontier Gold Medal for Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Buzz Aldrin, and John Glenn; and the Jack Nicklaus Gold Medal.

Figure 1. Examples of Congressional Gold Medal Design

Source: U.S. Mint, "New Frontier Congressional Gold Medal," at https://catalog.usmint.gov/new-frontier-bronze-medal-3-inch-920.html?cgid=humanitarian-cultural; and U.S. Mint, "Jack Nicklaus Congressional Gold Medal," at https://catalog.usmint.gov/jack-nicklaus-bronze-medal-3-inch-15ME.html?cgid=humanitarian-cultural.

Issues for Congress

As Members of Congress contemplate introducing legislation, and the House or the Senate potentially consider Congressional Gold Medal measures, there are several issues that could be considered. These can be divided into issues for individual Members of Congress with respect to individual Congressional Gold Medals, and issues for Congress as an institution. Individual issues include choices Members may make about which people or groups might be honored and whether specific design elements might be specified statutorily. Institutional issues might include committee or chamber rules on the consideration of Congressional Gold Medals and creating standards for the issuance of gold medals.

Individual Considerations

Individuals and Groups Honored

Some Congressional Gold Medals have honored individuals (e.g., Arnold Palmer, Muhammad Yunus), some discrete groups of individuals (e.g., General of the Army George Catlett Marshall and Fleet Admiral Ernest Joseph King, Ruth and Billy Graham), and some larger groups (e.g., military units such as Women Airforce Service Pilots ["WASP"], Monuments Men). In choosing whom or what to recognize, Members of Congress generally evaluate whether they believe that the individual's or group's activities merit recognition by Congress. Congressional Gold Medals are "the highest civilian honor award program ... [to] honor national achievement in patriotic, humanitarian, and artistic endeavors."47 There are no specific criteria to determine whether or not an individual or group meets those lofty goals. Instead, each individual or group is judged on their merits by Congress should the legislation be considered.

Specification of Design Elements

Congressional Gold Medal authorizations generally do not specify design elements. Instead, they direct the Secretary of the Treasury to "strike a gold medal with suitable emblems, devices, and inscriptions to be determined by the Secretary."48 Should Congress want to specify particular design elements, they might be included in the authorizing legislation.49 This would provide the Secretary of the Treasury with congressional intent on what should be incorporated into the gold medal design. Similar statutory specificity is sometimes included in commemorative coin legislation.50 Such specification, however, could serve to limit design choices for the gold medal and might alter the cost structure of striking the award, if the required element diverges from standard practices.51

Location of Medal Awarded to Groups

Congressional Gold Medal legislation for groups generally provides that only a single gold medal is struck and specifies where it will be located after it is formally awarded. In many cases, the gold medal is given to the Smithsonian for appropriate display and where it can be made available for research.52 In other cases, the gold medal is provided to an organization that represents the honored group.53 Since most gold medal legislation contains a provision on the medal's location, a Member of Congress can help determine where the medal will be located.

Institutional Consideration

Requirements for Legislative Considerations

As discussed above under "Authorizing Congressional Gold Medals," neither the House nor Senate rules provide any restrictions specifically concerning consideration of Congressional Gold Medal legislation on the House or Senate floor. In the 115th Congress, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs requires that at least 67 Senators must cosponsor any Senate Congressional Gold Medal bill before being considered by the committee.54 Currently, the House Financial Services Committee has not adopted any specific rules concerning committee consideration of Congressional Gold Medal legislation, although it has required a minimum number of cosponsors in past Congresses for committee consideration.55 Additionally, House Republican Conference rules provide guidance for the majority leader when scheduling Congressional Gold Medal legislation.56

As demonstrated by the discontinuation of the House Financial Services Committee rule requiring a minimum number of cosponsors for committee gold medal legislation, committee rules can be changed from Congress to Congress. Should the committee want to place requirements on its consideration of gold medal legislation, the Financial Services Committee could readopt its former rule, or something similar. Adopting committee rules to require a minimum number of cosponsors might encourage bill sponsors to build support among Representatives for gold medal bills. Such a minimum requirement, however, could potentially limit the number or type of gold medal bills the committee considers.57 Since only the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs has a rule that imposes a formal qualification on the potential committee consideration of gold medal legislation, the possible path forward for a bill can be different within each chamber.

Should the House, the Senate, or both want to adopt similar language for committee or chamber consideration of gold medal legislation, such language could be incorporated into future committee rules, into House and Senate Rules, or into law. Taking steps to formally codify the gold medal consideration process might provide sponsors with a single process for award consideration, which could make it easier for gold medal bills to meet minimum requirements for consideration across both the House and Senate. Such codification could also limit congressional flexibility and might result in fewer proposals or authorizations to comply with new standards.

Statutory Standards

Currently, there is no statutory limit to the number of Congressional Gold Medals that can be authorized. Should Congress want to place a limit on the number of gold medals awarded, standards could be adopted to provide a maximum number of gold medals authorized in any year or Congress. Congress has previously adopted similar standards for commemorative coins—only two coins may be minted in any given calendar year.58

Legislation to place a limit on the number of gold medals authorized has previously been introduced and considered in the House. During the 109th Congress (2005-2006), H.R. 54 passed the House and would have restricted the Secretary of the Treasury from striking "more than 2 congressional gold medals for presentation ... in any calendar year."59 Introduced by Representative Michael Castle, the stated purpose of the legislation was to "maintain the prestige of the medal by limiting the number that may be awarded each year," and to "clarify that recipients are individuals and not groups." Passage of the measure, he argued, would "ensure the future integrity and true honor of the award."60 H.R. 54 did not receive further consideration in the Senate.

While proponents of a limit on the number of gold medals issued might make arguments similar to those made by Representative Castle, opponents believe that Congress should reserve the right to authorize as many gold medals as it deems necessary, without consideration of the number struck in any calendar year. Representative Joseph Crowley in opposing the legislation told his House colleagues, "We are rushing to act on an issue that does not represent a problem." "Who that received this medal in the past," he asked, "was not worthy of it?" Further, Crowley argued that "there are occasions when more than one person is justified to receive the medal for their honorable actions in tandem with others." He continued by emphasizing that had this bill already been law, "Congress would not have been able to issue" a Congressional Gold Medal "to the Little Rock Nine," to "President and Mrs. Reagan," or to "Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King."61

Concluding Observations

Congressional Gold Medals have long been an important way for Congress to express public gratitude for important historical events and achievements. Congressional Gold Medals, which have been issued since the American Revolution, are "the highest civilian honor award program ... [to] honor national achievement in patriotic, humanitarian, and artistic endeavors."62 In recent years, the number of gold medals awarded has "soared from four or five per decade for most of its history to an average of almost twenty in the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s."63

Each Congress, legislation to award Congressional Gold Medals is introduced. In the 113th Congress (2013-2014), 52 bills were introduced, 34 in the House and 18 in the Senate, to award a gold medal. In the 114th Congress (2015-2016), 52 bills were introduced, 38 in the House and 14 in the Senate.

Based on the number of measures offered in both chambers, some Members of Congress clearly feel it is important to recognize individuals and groups for their patriotic, humanitarian, and artistic achievements. Several considerations appear important when Members decide to introduce gold medal legislation. These include who should be honored, how many medals should be awarded in a given Congress, and whether specific design elements should be prescribed for the medal design. As Congress continues to consider legislation to award future gold medals, these considerations and others will likely be important factors for issuing the award.

Appendix. Summary of Congressional Gold Medals Awarded: 1776-2017

Recipient(s)

Date of Approval

Public Law

George Washington

March 25, 1776

Continental Congress

Major General Horatio Gates

November 4, 1777

Continental Congress

Major General Anthony Wayne

July 26, 1779

Continental Congress

Major Henry Lee

September 24, 1779

Continental Congress

Brigadier General [author name scrubbed]

March 9, 1781

Continental Congress

Major General Nathanael Greene

October 29, 1781

Continental Congress

John Paul Jones

October 16, 1787

Continental Congress

Captain Thomas Truxtun

March 29, 1800

2 Stat. 87

Commodore Edward Preble

March 3, 1805

2 Stat. 346-347

Captain Isaac Hull, Captain Stephen Decatur, and Captain Jacob Jones

January 29, 1813

2 Stat. 830

Captain William Bainbridge

March 3, 1813

2 Stat. 831

Captain Oliver Hazard Perry and Captain Jesse D. Elliott

January 6, 1814

3 Stat. 141

Lieutenant William Burrows and Lieutenant Edward R. McCall

January 6, 1814

3 Stat. 141-142

Captain James Lawrence

January 11, 1814

3 Stat. 142

Captain Thomas MacDonough, Captain Robert Henly, and Lieutenant Stephen Cassin

October 20, 1814

3 Stat. 245-246

Captain Lewis Warrington

October 21, 1814

3 Stat. 246

Captain Johnston Blakely

November 3, 1814

3 Stat. 246-247

Major General Jacob Brown

November 3, 1814

3 Stat. 247

Major General Winfield Scott

November 3, 1814

3 Stat. 247

Brigadier General Eleazar W. Ripley, Brigadier General James Miller, and Major General Peter B. Porter

November 3, 1814

3 Stat. 247

Major General Edmund P. Gaines

November 3, 1814

3 Stat. 247

Major General Alexander Macomb

November 3, 1814

3 Stat. 247

Major General Andrew Jackson

February 27, 1815

3 Stat. 249

Captain Charles Stewart

February 22, 1816

3 Stat. 341

Captain James Biddle

February 22, 1816

3 Stat. 341

Major General William Henry Harrison and Governor Isaac Shelby

April 4, 1818

3 Stat. 476

Colonel George Croghan

February 13, 1835

4 Stat. 792

Major General Zachary Taylor

July 16, 1846;
March 2, 1847

9 Stat. 111;
9 Stat. 206

Rescuers of the Officers and Crew of the U.S. brig Somers

March 3, 1847

9 Stat. 208

Major General Winfield Scott

March 9, 1848

9 Stat. 333

Major General Zachary Taylor

May 9, 1848

9 Stat. 334-335

Commander Duncan N. Ingraham

August 4, 1854

10 Stat. 594-595

Frederick A. Rose

May 11, 1858

11 Stat. 369

Major General Ulysses S. Grant

December 17, 1863

13 Stat. 399

Cornelius Vanderbilt

January 28, 1864

13 Stat. 401

Captain Creighton, Captain Low, and Captain Stouffer

July 26, 1866

14 Stat. 365-366

Cyrus W. Field

March 2, 1867

14 Stat. 574

George Peabody

March 16, 1867

15 Stat. 20

George F. Robinson

March 1, 1871

16 Stat. 704

Captain Jared S. Crandall and Others

February 24, 1873

17 Stat. 638

John Horn Jr.

June 20, 1874
April 28, 1904

18 Stat. 573
33 Stat. 1684-1685

John F. Slater

February 5, 1883

22 Stat. 636

Joseph Francis

August 27, 1888

25 Stat. 1249

Chief Engineer George Wallace Melville and Others

September 30, 1890

26 Stat. 552-553

First Lieutenant Frank H. Newcomb

May 3, 1900

31 Stat. 717

First Lieutenant David H. Jarvis, Second Lieutenant Ellsworth P. Bertholf, and Dr. Samuel J. Call

June 28, 1902

32 Stat. 492

Wright Brothers

March 4, 1909

35 Stat. 1627

Captain Arthur Henry Rostron

July 6, 1912

37 Stat. 639

Captain Paul H. Kreibohm and Others

March 19, 1914

38 Stat. 769

Domicio da Gama, Romulo S. Naon, and Eduardo Suarez

March 4, 1915

38 Stat. 1228

Charles A. Lindbergh

May 4, 1928

45 Stat. 490

Lincoln Ellsworth, Roald Amundsen, and Umberto Nobile

May 29, 1928

45 Stat. 2026-2027

Thomas A. Edison

May 29, 1928

45 Stat. 1012

First Successful Trans-Atlantic Flight

February 9, 1929

45 Stat. 1158

Major Walter Reed and Associates for Yellow Fever Experimentations in Cuba

February 28, 1929

45 Stat. 1409-1410

Officers and Men of the Byrd Antarctic Expedition

May 23, 1930

46 Stat. 379

Lincoln Ellsworth

June 16, 1936

49 Stat. 2324

George M. Cohan

June 29, 1936

49 Stat. 2371

Mrs. Richard Aldrich and
Anna Bouligny

June 20, 1938

52 Stat. 1365

Howard Hughes

August 7, 1939

53 Stat. 1525

Reverend Francis X. Quinn

August 10, 1939

53 Stat. 1533

William Sinnott

June 15, 1940

54 Stat. 1283

Roland Boucher

January 20, 1942

56 Stat. 1099-1100

George Catlett Marshall, General of the Army, and Fleet Admiral Ernest Joseph King

March 22, 1946

60 Stat. 1134-1135

John J. Pershing, General of the Armies of the United States

August 7, 1946

60 Stat. 1297-1298

Brigadier General William Mitchell

August 8, 1946

60 Stat. 1319

Vice President Alben W. Barkley

August 12, 1949

P.L. 81-221, 63 Stat. 599

Irving Berlin

July 16, 1954

P.L. 83-536, 68 Stat. A120

Doctor Jonas E. Salk

August 9, 1955

P.L. 84-297, 69 Stat. 589

Surviving Veterans of the War Between the States

July 18, 1956

P.L. 84-730, 70 Stat. 577

Rear Admiral Hyman George Rickover

August 28, 1958

P.L. 85-826, 72 Stat. 985

Doctor Robert H. Goddard

September 16, 1959

P.L. 86-277, 73 Stat. 562-563

Robert Frost

September 13, 1960

P.L. 86-747, 74 Stat. 883

Doctor Thomas Anthony Dooley III

May 27, 1961

P.L. 87-42, 75 Stat. 87

Bob Hope

June 8, 1962

P.L. 87-478, 76 Stat. 93

Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the House of Representatives

September 26, 1962

P.L. 87-478, 76 Stat. 605

Douglas MacArthur, General of the Army

October 9, 1962

P.L. 87-760, 76 Stat. 760

Walt Disney

May 24, 1968

P.L. 90-316, 82 Stat. 130-131

Winston Churchill

May 7, 1969

P.L. 91-12, 83 Stat. 8-9

Roberto Walker Clemente

May 14, 1973

P.L. 93-33, 87 Stat. 71

Marian Anderson

March 8, 1977

P.L. 95-9, 91 Stat. 19

Lieutenant General Ira C. Eaker

October 10, 1978

P.L. 95-438, 92 Stat. 1060

Robert F. Kennedy

November 1, 1978

P.L. 95-560, 92 Stat. 2142

John Wayne

May 26, 1979

P.L. 96-15, 93 Stat. 32

Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson, and Larry Newman

June 13, 1979

P.L. 96-20, 93 Stat. 45

Hubert H. Humphrey

June 13, 1979

P.L. 96-21, 93 Stat. 46

American Red Cross

December 12, 1979

P.L. 96-138, 93 Stat. 1063

Ambassador Kenneth Taylor

March 6, 1980

P.L. 96-201, 94 Stat. 79

Simon Wiesenthal

March 17, 1980

P.L. 96-211, 94 Stat. 101

1980 United States Summer Olympic Team

July 8, 1980

P.L. 96-306, 94 Stat. 937

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands

March 22, 1982

P.L. 97-158, 96 Stat. 18-19

Admiral Hyman George Rickover

June 23, 1982

P.L. 97-201, 96 Stat. 126-127

Fred Waring

August 26, 1982

P.L. 97-246, 96 Stat. 315-316

Joe Louis

August 26, 1982

P.L. 97-246, 96 Stat. 315-316

Louis L'Amour

August 26, 1982

P.L. 97-246, 96 Stat. 315-316

Leo J. Ryan

November 18, 1983

P.L. 98-159, 97 Stat. 992

Danny Thomas

November 29, 1983

P.L. 98-159, 97 Stat. 992

Harry S. Truman

May 8, 1984

P.L. 98-278, 98 Stat. 173-175

Lady Bird Johnson

May 8, 1984

P.L. 98-278, 98 Stat. 173-175

Elie Wiesel

May 8, 1984

P.L. 98-278, 98 Stat. 173-175

Roy Wilkins

May 17, 1984

P.L. 98-285, 98 Stat. 186

George and Ira Gershwin

August 9, 1985

P.L. 99-86, 99 Stat. 288-289

Anatoly and Avital Shcharansky

May 13, 1986

P.L. 99-298, 100 Stat. 432-433

Harry Chapin

May 20, 1986

P.L. 99-311, 100 Stat. 464

Aaron Copland

September 23, 1986

P.L. 99-418, Stat. 952-953

Mary Lasker

December 24, 1987

P.L. 100-210, 101 Stat. 1441

Jesse Owens

September 20, 1988

P.L. 100-437, 102 Stat. 1717

Andrew Wyeth

November 9, 1988

P.L. 100-639, 102 Stat. 3331-3332

Laurence Spelman Rockefeller

May 17, 1990

P.L. 101-296, 104 Stat. 197-199

General Matthew B. Ridgeway

November 5, 1990

P.L. 101-510, 104 Stat. 1720-1721

General H. Norman Schwarzkopf

April 23, 1991

P.L. 102-32, 105 Stat. 175-176

General Colin Powell

April 23, 1991

P.L. 102-33, 105 Stat. 177-178

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson

November 2, 1994

P.L. 103-457, 108 Stat. 4799-4800

Ruth and Billy Graham

February 13, 1996

P.L. 104-111, 110 Stat. 772-773

Francis Albert "Frank" Sinatra

May 14, 1997

P.L. 105-14, 111 Stat. 32-33

Mother Teresa of Calcutta

June 2, 1997

P.L. 105-16, 111 Stat. 35-36

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew

October 6, 1997

P.L. 105-51, 111 Stat. 117-1171

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

July 29, 1998

P.L. 105-215, 112 Stat. 895-896

Little Rock Nine

October 21, 1998

P.L. 105-277, 112 Stat. 2681-597

Gerald R. and Betty Ford

October 21, 1998

P.L. 105-277, 112 Stat. 2681-598

Rosa Parks

May 4, 1999

P.L. 106-26, 113 Stat. 50-51

Theodore M. Hesburgh

December 9, 1999

P.L. 106-153, 113 Stat. 1733-1734

John Cardinal O'Connor

March 3, 2000

P.L. 106-175, 114 Stat. 20-21

Charles M. Schulz

June 20, 2000

P.L. 106-225, 114 Stat. 457-458

Pope John Paul II

July 27, 2000

P.L. 106-250, 114 Stat. 622-623

Ronald and Nancy Reagan

July 27, 2000

P.L. 106-251, 114 Stat. 624-625

Navajo Code Talkers

December 21, 2000

P.L. 106-554, 114 Stat. 2763

General Henry H. Shelton

January 16, 2002

P.L. 107-127, 115 Stat. 2405-2406

Prime Minister Tony Blair of the United Kingdom

July 17, 2003

P.L. 108-60, 117 Stat. 862-863

Jackie Roosevelt Robinson

October 23, 2003

P.L. 108-101, 117 Stat. 1195-1197

Dr. Dorothy Height

December 6, 2003

P.L. 108-162, 117 Stat. 2017-2019

Reverend Joseph A. DeLaine, Harry and Eliza Briggs, and Levi Pearson

December 15, 2003

P.L. 108-180, 117 Stat. 2645-2647

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King

October 25, 2004

P.L. 108-368, 118 Stat. 1746-1748

The Tuskegee Airmen

April 11, 2006

P.L. 109-213, 120 Stat. 322

Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama

September 27, 2006

P.L. 109-287, 120 Stat. 1231-1232

Byron Nelson

October 16, 2006

P.L. 109-357, 120 Stat. 2044-2046

Dr. Norman E. Borlaug

December 14, 2006

P.L. 109-395, 120 Stat. 2709

Michael Ellis DeBakey, M.D.

October 10, 2007

P.L. 110-95, 121 Stat. 1008

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi

May 6, 2008

P.L. 110-209, 122 Stat. 721

Constantino Brumidi

July 1, 2008

P.L. 110-259, 122 Stat. 2430-2432

Edward William Brooke III

July 1, 2008

P.L. 110-260, 122 Stat. 2433-2435

Native American Code Talkers

October 15, 2008

P.L. 110-420, 122 Stat. 4774

Women Airforce Service Pilots of WWII ('WASP')

July 1, 2009

P.L. 111-40, 123 Stat. 1958

Neil A. Armstrong, Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin Jr., Michael Collins, and John Herschel Glenn Jr.

August 7, 2009

P.L. 111-44, 123 Stat. 1966-1967

Arnold Palmer

September 30, 2009

P.L. 111-65, 123 Stat. 2003

Dr. Muhammad Yunus

October 5, 2010

P.L. 111-253, 124 Stat. 2635

100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team, and the Military Intelligence Service, United States Army

October 5, 2010

P.L. 111-254, 124 Stat. 2637

Montford Point Marines

November 11, 2011

P.L. 112-59, 125 Stat. 751

The Fallen Heroes of 9/11

December 23, 2011

P.L. 112-76, 125 Stat. 1275 and 1276

Raoul Wallenberg

July 26, 2012

P.L. 112-148, 126 Stat. 1140-1143

Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley

May 24, 2013 

P.L. 113-11, 127 Stat. 447

The First Special Service Force, World War II

July 12, 2013     

P.L. 113-16,127 Stat. 477

American Fighter Aces

May 23, 2014

P.L. 113-105, 128 Stat. 1159

World War II members of the 17th Bombardment Group known as "Doolittle Tokyo Raiders"

May 23, 2014

P.L. 113-106, 128 Stat. 1160

World War II members of the Civil Air Patrol     

May 30, 2014

P.L. 113-108, 128 Stat. 1164

President Shimon Peres

June 9, 2014

P.L. 113-114, 128 Stat. 1175

Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives Section under the Allied Armies (Monuments Men)

June 9, 2014

P.L. 113-116, 128 Stat. 1179

65th Infantry Regiment, United States Army, known as the Borinqueneers

June 10, 2014

P.L. 113-120, 128 Stat. 1183

Jack Nicklaus

December 16, 2014

P.L. 113-210, 128 Stat. 2077

Foot Soldiers who participated in Bloody Sunday, Turnaround Tuesday, or the final Selma to Montgomery Voting Rights March in March of 1965

March 7, 2015

P.L. 114-5, 129 Stat. 78

Filipino Veterans of World War II

December 14, 2016

P.L. 114-265, 130 Stat. 1376

Office of Strategic Services

December 14, 2016

P.L. 114-269, 130 Stat. 1391

Bob Dole

September 15, 2017

P.L. 115-60, 131 Stat. 1154

Author Contact Information

[author name scrubbed], Specialist on the Congress ([email address scrubbed], [phone number scrubbed])

Footnotes

1.

See "Decorations, Medals, and Badges," in the general index of the United States Code: 2000 Edition (Washington: GPO, 2001).

2.

Other options for recognizing individuals and groups include naming post offices or federal office buildings, establishing a commemorative time period, minting commemorative coins, and creating memorials. For more information on these recognitions, see CRS Report R43539, Commemorations in Congress: Options for Honoring Individuals, Groups, and Events, coordinated by [author name scrubbed].

3.

J.F. Loubat, The Medallic History of the United States of America, 1776-1876, 2 vols. (New York: Printed by Author, 1878), vol. 1, p. viii.

4.

David Humphrey to Matthew Carey (Printer of the American Museum), November 1787, in Labatt, The Medallic History of the United States, vol. 1, p. xxiv.

5.

Humphrey "succeeded in securing the cooperation of the Academe d'Insciptions et Belles-Lettres in Paris and this learned institution nominated a committee of four among its members who worked very expeditiously in devising designs and inscriptions" for the medals the Continental Congress had authorized. Vladimir Clain-Stefanelli and Elvira Clain-Stefanelli, Medals Commemorating Battles of the American Revolution (Washington: The National Museum of History and Technology, Smithsonian Institution, 1973), p. 1.

6.

T. Bailey Meyers, "Our National Medals," Magazine of American History, vol. 2, September 1878, pp. 529-532. Altogether Congress authorized a total of 15 medals and 10 ceremonial swords during the Confederation period. Boyd, The Papers of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 16, pp. 54-55.

7.

U.S. Continental Congress, Journals of the Continental Congress: 1774-1789, vol. 4, March 25, 1776, p. 234. Brief histories of George Washington's gold medal are found in Georgia Stamm Chamberlain, American Medals and Medalists (Annandale, VA: Designed and Lithographed by the Turnpike Press, Inc., 1963), pp. 16-17; R.W. Julian, Medals of the United States Mint: The First Century 1792-1892 (El Cajon, CA: The Token and Medal Society, Inc., 1977), pp. 114-115.

8.

Julian, Medals of the United States Mint, p. xviii.

9.

2 Stat. 87, 346-347. See also Theodore T. Belote, "Naval War Medals of the United States 1800-1815, Part III," Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine, vol. 56, January 1922, pp. 77-93; Julian, Medals of the United States Mint, p. 150; Labatt, The Medallic History of the United States, vol. 1, pp. 128-132.

10.

3 Stat. 341. See also Theodore T. Belote, "Military and Naval Medals of the War of 1812-1815, Part II," Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine, vol. 55, November 1921, p. 639; Belote, "Naval War Medals of the United States 1800-1815, Part III," pp. 92-93; Julian, Medals of the United States Mint, p. 153; Labatt, The Medallic History of the United States, vol. 1, pp. 249-252.

11.

9 Stat. 111, 206, 334-335. See also Chamberlain, American Medals and Medalists, pp. 75-93.

12.

9 Stat. 333. See also Theodore T. Belote, "Military Medals of the War with Mexico and the Civil War," Numismatist, vol. 56, May 1922, pp. 280-281; Julian, Medals of the United States Mint, p. 138. In addition to medals for Generals Taylor and Scott, gold medals were given to 10 officers and seamen belonging or attached to the French, British, and Spanish ships-of-war, who on December 10, 1846, gallantly rescued 37 of the officers and crew from the wreck of the United States brig Somers in Vera Cruz harbor (9 Stat. 208).

13.

10 Stat. 594-595.

14.

13 Stat. 401-402. See also U.S. President, 1861-1865 (Lincoln), Message of the President of the United States Recommending That Some Suitable Acknowledgment Be Made to Cornelius Vanderbilt for the Valuable Present to the United States of the Steamer "Vanderbilt," S. Ex. Doc. 71, 37th Cong., 2nd sess. (Washington: GPO, 1862), p. 1.

15.

14 Stat. 574. See also U.S. President, 1865-1869 (A. Johnson), Gold Medal Presented to Cyrus W. Field, Message From the President in Relation to the Gold Medal Presented to Mr. Cyrus W. Field, H. Ex. Doc. 89, 40th Cong., 3rd sess. (Washington: GPO, 1869).

16.

16 Stat. 704. See also U.S. Congress, House Committee on Foreign Affairs, George F. Robinson, report to accompany H.Res. 501, 41st Cong., 3rd sess., H.Rept. 33 (Washington: GPO, 1874).

17.

12 Stat. 330, 623-624. Also, see CRS Report 95-519, Medal of Honor: History and Issues, by [author name scrubbed]; Above and Beyond: A History of the Medal of Honor From the Civil War to Vietnam (Boston: Boston Publishing Co., 1985); E. Kerrigan, American War Medals and Decorations (New York: The Viking Press), 1964, pp. 3-11; George Lang, Medal of Honor Recipients, 1863-1994, 2 vols. (New York: Facts on File, 1995); U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs, Medal of Honor Recipients 1863-1978, committee print no. 3, 96th Cong., 1st sess. (Washington: GPO, 1979); Mendel L. Peterson, "The Navy Medal of Honor," Numismatist, vol. 63, June 1950, pp. 305-312; Mendel L. Peterson, "The Army Medal of Honor," Numismatist, vol. 63, September 1950, pp. 557-565.

18.

49 Stat. 2371; 68 Stat. A120. See also U.S. Congress, House Committee on the Library, To Authorize the President to Present a Gold Medal to George M. Cohan in Recognition of His Patriotic Service, H.Rept. 2868, 74th Cong., 2nd sess. (Washington: GPO, 1936).

19.

35 Stat. 1627. See also "Gold Medal by Congress to Wright Brothers," Numismatist, vol. 22, August 1919, pp. 231-232; Arthur L. Newman, "Some Medals Struck in Honor of the Wright Brothers," Numismatist, vol. 81, December 1968, p. 1576.

20.

45 Stat. 2026-2027. See also U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Commerce, A Medal of Honor to Lincoln Ellsworth, S.Rept. 831, 70th Cong., 1st sess. (Washington: GPO, 1928).

21.

45 Stat. 1409-1410; 52 Stat. 1365. See also U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Military Affairs, To Recognize the High Public Service Rendered by Major Walter Reed and Those Associated with Him in the Discovery of the Cause and Means of Transmission of Yellow Fever, S.Rept. 1912, 70th Cong., 2nd sess. (Washington: GPO, 1929).

22.

63 Stat. 599; See also U.S. Congress, Senate Committee on Banking and Currency, Medal for Vice President Alben W. Barkley, S.Rept. 742, 81st Cong., 1st sess. (Washington: GPO, 1949).

23.

For examples of civil rights activists receiving gold medals, see 98 Stat. 173-174; 112 Stat. 2681-597; 113 Stat. 50-51; 117 Stat. 2017-2019; 117 Stat. 2645-2647; 118 Stat. 1746-1748. See also Gold Medals to the Daughter of Harry S. Truman; Lady Bird Johnson; and the Widow of Roy Wilkins, pp. 11-108. For examples of the recognition of humanitarian efforts, see 111 Stat. 35-36, 1170-1171; 112 Stat. 895-896.

24.

U.S. Congress, House, Financial Services Committee, at http://financialservices.house.gov; and U.S. Congress, Senate, Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, at https://www.banking.senate.gov. Additionally, some bills are also referred to the Committee on House Administration.

25.

Suspension of the rules is a procedure by which the House can expeditiously process legislation, but approval requires a two-thirds vote for final passage. See CRS Report 98-314, Suspension of the Rules in the House: Principal Features, by [author name scrubbed].

26.

Rule 28(a)(7), Rules of the House Republican Conference for the 115th Congress, available at http://www.gop.gov/about/115th-rules.

27.

Ibid.

28.

See CRS Report 98-307, Points of Order, Rulings, and Appeals in the House of Representatives, by [author name scrubbed].

29.

See CRS Report 98-354, How Special Rules Regulate Calling up Measures for Consideration in the House, by [author name scrubbed].

30.

"Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Rules of Procedure," Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 161 (January 24, 2017), p. S433.

31.

A House bill would have no Senate cosponsors. For more information on sponsorship, see CRS Report 98-279, Sponsorship and Cosponsorship of Senate Bills, by [author name scrubbed]; and CRS Report RS22477, Sponsorship and Cosponsorship of House Bills, by [author name scrubbed].

32.

See CRS Report RS22309, Senate Rule XIV Procedure for Placing Measures Directly on the Senate Calendar, for explanation of the ways in which an introduced bill (or one received from the House) may receive floor consideration without a committee referral or committee action.

33.

See "Decorations, Medals, and Badges," in the general index of the United States Code: 2000 Edition (Washington: GPO, 2001).

34.

P.L. 113-106, 128 Stat. 1160, May 23, 2014.

35.

P.L. 114-5, 129 Stat. 78, March 7, 2015.

36.

P.L. 113-105, 128 Stat. 1157, May 23, 2014.

37.

P.L. 113-120, 128 Stat. 1192, June 10, 2014.

38.

P.L. 112-59, 125 Stat. 751, November 23, 2011.

39.

P.L. 111-40, 123 Stat. 1961, July 1, 2009.

40.

For example, see P.L. 111-253, 124 Stat. 2636, October 5, 2010.

41.

31 U.S.C. §5135.

42.

Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, "About Us," at https://www.ccac.gov/aboutUs/index.html.

43.

For a list of current members of the CCAC, see Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee, "Members," at https://www.ccac.gov/aboutUs/members.html.

44.

U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, Civic Art: A Centennial History of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2013), p. 480. [Hereinafter CFA, Civic Art.]

45.

40 U.S.C. §9102.

46.

Letter from Thomas E. Luebke, secretary, U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, to Richard A. Peterson, deputy director, U.S. Mint, March 27, 2014, at https://www.cfa.gov/records-research/project-search/cfa-20mar14-6.

47.

Civic Art, p. 480.

48.

For example, see P.L. 113-11, §2(b) ("The Little Rock Four"), 127 Stat. 447, May 24, 2013; or P.L. 113-114, §2(b) (Shimon Peres), 128 Stat. 1176, June 9, 2014.

49.

For example, the Native American Code Talkers Congressional Gold Medal provided general specifications for the gold medal. It stated that "the design of a gold medal ... shall be emblematic of the participation of the code talkers of each recognized tribe" P.L. 110-420, 122 Stat. 4776, October 18, 2008.

50.

For example, Congress specified that the Apollo 11 50th Anniversary commemorative coin "shall be produced in a fashion similar to the 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame 75th Anniversary Commemorative Coin, so that the reverse of the coin is convex to more closely resemble the visor of the astronaut's helmet of the time and the obverse concave, providing a more dramatic display of the obverse design.... " P.L. 114-282, §3(d)(1), 130 Stat. 1443, December 16, 2016.

51.

For example, see discussion on the size of precious-metal blanks for the 2014 National Baseball Hall of Fame commemorative coin that accompanied P.L. 113-10 (127 Stat. 445, May 17, 2013), at "National Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorative Coin Act Amendment," Congressional Record, vol. 159, daily edition (April 24, 2013), pp. H2260-H2261.

52.

For example, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) Gold Medal provided "(1) ... Following the award of the gold medal in commemoration to the members of the Office of Strategic Services under subsection (a), the gold medal shall be given to the Smithsonian Institution, where it will be displayed as appropriate and made available for research [; and] (2) ... It is the sense of Congress that the Smithsonian Institution should make the gold medal received under paragraph (1) available for display elsewhere, particularly at other appropriate locations associated with the Office of Strategic Services." P.L. 114-269, §3(c), 130 Stat. 1393, December 14, 2016.

53.

For example, the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders Congressional Gold Medal was provided to the National Museum of the United States Air Force. P.L. 113-106, §2(a)(3), 128 Stat. 1161, May 23, 2014.

54.

"Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Rules of Procedure," Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 161 (January 24, 2017), p. S433.

55.

U.S. Congress, House, Committee on Financial Services, Rules for the Committee on Financial Services, 113th Cong., 1st sess. (Washington: GPO, 2013), p. 6, at http://financialservices.house.gov/uploadedfiles/113-a.pdf#page=12.

56.

Rule 28(a)(7), Rules of the House Republican Conference for the 115th Congress, available at http://www.gop.gov/about/115th-rules.

57.

As noted earlier, however, neither the current House Republican Conference rules, nor the previous House Financial Services Committee rules, formally preclude House consideration of any gold medal bill; the House has alternative mechanisms for floor consideration should it wish to employ them.

58.

P.L. 104-208, §529, 110 Stat. 3009-349, September 30, 1996; 31 U.S.C. §5112(m)(1). For more information on commemorative coins, see CRS Report R44623, Commemorative Coins: Background, Legislative Process, and Issues for Congress, by [author name scrubbed].

59.

H.R. 54 (109th Congress), passed the House on January 26, 2005.

60.

"Congressional Gold Medal Enhancement Act of 2005," Congressional Record, daily edition, vol. 151 (January 26, 2004), p. H207. See also "Limits May Be Imposed on Honor Medals," Washington Post, January 27, 2005, p. A17.

61.

Ibid., pp. H206-H207, H209.

62.

Civic Art, p. 480.

63.

Civic Art, p. 484.