WASHINGTON — The US House of Representatives approved legislation that would award Israeli President Shimon Peres the Congressional Gold Medal.
The voice vote on Monday comes after the US Senate passed similar legislation in March, also by acclamation.
Peres, who is 90 and whose term ends in July, is due to visit the United States toward the end of June and will meet with President Barack Obama, who in 2012 awarded the Israeli leader the presidential Medal of Freedom.
There likely will not be an official ceremony at that time because of the time it takes for the US Mint to cast a new medal.
Sponsoring the bills were Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) in the Senate and Reps. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) in the House.
“For over 70 years President Shimon Peres has dedicated himself to the enduring bond that unites Israel and the United States,” said Congressman Kennedy in a statement. “There has been no greater champion for our shared values and defender of our shared interests. The passage of this bill signifies that Congress and the American people stand strong in our support of Israel and her people. In recognition of his tireless efforts and of the friendship embedded deeply between our two countries, I am honored to join my colleagues in moving this bipartisan legislation forward.”
Leading lobbying for its passage was the Friedlander Group, a New York City-based lobby shop.
Peres becomes one of nine people to win both the congressional and presidential medals, the highest US civilian honors.
Among the others are Natan Sharansky, the former prisoner of Zion who now leads the Jewish Agency for Israel; Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust memoirist and, like Peres, a Nobel Peace laureate; Simon Wiesenthal, the late Nazi hunter; and Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the late leader of the Lubavitch movement.