Minnesota politicians, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) led the full Minnesota delegation in Congress introducing legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Prince.
The bill honors Prince for his “legacy of musical achievement and… indelible mark on Minnesota and American culture.”
“Like so many, I grew up with Prince’s music. I was always proud to say he was from Minnesota,” said Klobuchar. “The world is a whole lot cooler because Prince was in it — he touched our hearts, opened our minds, and made us want to dance. With this legislation, we honor his memory and contributions as a composer, performer, and music innovator. Purple reigns in Minnesota today and every day because of him.”
“Prince is a Minnesota icon,” said Omar. “I remember when I first came to America being captivated by Prince’s music and impact on the culture. He showed that it was okay to be a short, Black kid from Minneapolis and still change the world. He not only changed the arc of music history; he put Minneapolis on the map. Places like First Avenue, Uptown are landmarks because of Prince. I am proud to introduce this resolution to give Prince the recognition he deserves.”
The full Minnesota delegation serve as original cosponsors, including Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) and Representatives Jim Hagedorn (R-MN), Angie Craig (D-MN), Dean Phillips (D-MN), Betty McCollum (D-MN), Tom Emmer (R-MN), Michelle Fischbach (R-MN), and Pete Stauber (R-MN).
The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian honor bestowed by the United States Congress. Only 163 have been awarded since 1776, the first going to George Washington.
Following introduction, legislation bestowing a Congressional Gold Medal must be co-sponsored by two-thirds of the membership of both the House of Representatives and the Senate in order to be awarded.
A different approach
Let’s go back in the Wayback Machine and look at a totally different thought process when it comes to Congressional Gold Medal. This more than a decade ago, 2006-ish, when Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama was awarded a congressional gold medal from the United States. One member of Congress decided there was no congressional authority to spend taxpayer money on this and other awards–that was Ron Paul.
Let’s see what then Congressman Paul has to say:
Mr. Speaker, with great sadness I must rise to oppose this measure granting a congressional gold medal to the 14th Dalai Lama. While I greatly admire and respect His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and fully recognize his tremendous status both as a Buddhist leader and international advocate for peace, I must object to the manner in which this body chooses to honor him.
I wonder if my colleagues see the irony in honoring a devout Buddhist monk with a material gift of gold. The Buddhist tradition, of course, eschews worldly possessions in favor of purity of thought and action. Buddhism urges its practitioners to alleviate the suffering of others whenever possible. I’m sure His Holiness the Dalai Lama would rather see $30,000 spent to help those less fortunate, rather than for a feel-good congressional gesture.
We cannot forget that Congress has no authority under the Constitution to spend taxpayer money on medals and awards, no matter how richly deserved. And I reiterate my offer of $100 from my own pocket to pay for this medal–if members wish to honor the Dalai Lama, all we need to do is pay for it ourselves. If all 435 of us contribute, the cost will be roughly $70 each. So while a gold medal sounds like a great idea, it becomes a bit strange when we see the actual cost involved.