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US Senators pitch for a Congressional Gold Medal to the Dalai Lama

Written by: Staff

Washington, May 12 (UNI) US Senators Dianne Feinstein and Craig Thomas have introduced a legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal -- the legislature's highest civilian award -- to Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

In a statement issued yesterday, the two senators said the award would be in recognition of the Tibetan leader's advocacy of peace, tolerance, human rights, non-violence and compassion throughout the world. The Bill has the bipartisan support of 73 other senators.

At least two-thirds of the Senate and the House of Representatives, besides the President, must support the move.

The medal can be awarded for a singular achievement or for a lifetime service and recipients do not have to be US citizens.

''The Dalai Lama has struggled for half a century to better the lives of the Tibetan people, armed only with his compassion, courage and conviction. In doing so, he has been a shining light to all those fighting for freedom around the world,'' California Democrate Senator Feinstein said.

''So I cannot say how much it means to me that three quarters of the Senate have put the daily battles aside to come together to say that this man deserves our nation's highest civilian honour -- the Congressional Gold Medal. It is my hope that the Senate will pass this resolution soon.'' ''The Dalai Lama has been one of the leading voices in advocating for peace, tolerance, human rights, non-violence and compassion throughout the globe. He has worked tirelessly for nearly 50 years to increase understanding between the Tibetan and Chinese people,'' Senator Thomas said.

''In these difficult times, I believe it is important to recognize those who fight to bring people together.'' For more than two centuries, Congress has expressed public gratitude on behalf of the nation for distinguished contributions through the occasional commissioning of individual struck gold medals in its name. This award, which initially was bestowed on military leaders, has also been given to such diverse individuals as Sir Winston Churchill, Bob Hope, George Washington, Robert Frost, Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa, and other Nobel Peace Laureates, such as Elie Wiesel and Nelson Mandela.

Under the rules, Congressional Gold Medals require the support of at least two-thirds of the members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives before they can be signed into law by the President.

The Feinstein-Thomas ''Fourteenth Dalai Lama Congressional Gold Medal Act'' must now be considered by the Senate Banking Committee before it can be brought to the Senate floor for final passage. Companion legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives by Florida Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and California Democrate Tom Lantos.


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