WASHINGTON— U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), Patty Murray (D-WA), John Kennedy (R-LA), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) applauded the Senate’s unanimous passage today 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 in the Senate. 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.
“Steve’s story is so compelling that in less than two months over 70 of our colleagues joined to affirm Steve’s inspiring story and impact upon his fellow Americans to make him worthy of the highest honor Congress can bestow,” said Dr. Cassidy on the Senate floor. “He is an example of what makes our country great. He has given hope to many. He gives hope to all those who have ever received a devastating diagnosis, and his message is simple: your life still has meaning. Your best years can still be ahead of you.” (Download high-quality video of Cassidy’s remarks)
“Motivating others by his own lived example, Steve—together with his wife, mother, and everyone at Team Gleason—has inspired hope in individuals throughout Washington state and across the globe, and has undoubtedly changed countless lives for the better,” said Senator Murray on the Senate floor. “Few people make Washington state as proud as Steve Gleason, and I am delighted to sponsor this legislation to award Steve the Congressional Gold Medal.”
“I’m proud to announce today that Steve Gleason is one step closer to being awarded the Congressional Gold Medal,” said Senator Kennedy. “Aside from his outstanding contribution on the field with the Saints, his philanthropic work for ALS has truly distinguished him. Since his diagnosis with ALS, he has dedicated countless hours raising awareness for the disease. He has conducted himself admirably and serves as an inspiration for all affected by ALS. Congratulations, Steve!”
“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 Cantwell’s remarks on the Senate floor)
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.