December 05, 2023

Senate Passes Manchin Bipartisan Congressional Award Act

Washington, DC – Yesterday, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Cynthia Lummis’ (R-WY) bipartisan Congressional Award Act, which would reauthorize the Congressional Award Program. The program is an incredibly high honor for citizens aged 14 to 23 and is authorized by Congress every five years. The program encourages young Americans to pursue goals focused on volunteerism, character development, and fitness.

“Since 1979, Congressional Awards have motivated thousands of young Americans to work hard to better themselves and give back to their communities,” said Senator Manchin. “I’m thrilled the Senate has passed our bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the program and ensure we can continue to inspire generations of young people to public service. I will continue working with Senator Lummis and our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure the Congressional Award is available to youth for years to come.”

“The Congressional Award’s roots run deep in Wyoming, and I am thrilled the Senate passed my legislation to allow this fantastic program to continue building upon its legacy of selfless service,” said Senator Lummis. “When Wyoming’s own Senator Malcolm Wallop created the Congressional Award in 1979, I am not sure that even he realized just how impactful the program would be. The results of the last 40 years speak for themselves, and I am sure the program’s impact will only grow in the future.”

Senators Manchin and Lummis were joined by Senators John Barrasso (R-WY), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), John Boozman (R-AR) and Roger Wicker (R-MS).

About the Congressional Award Program:

  • As the United States Congress’ only non-profit and highest honor for civilian youth, the Congressional Award Program was started by Wyoming’s late Senator Malcolm Wallop in 1979.
  • To achieve a Bronze, Silver or Gold Congressional Award Certificate or Medal, each participant sets and achieves challenging goals in four program areas: voluntary public service, personal development, physical fitness and expedition/exploration. 
  • Medals are presented by members of the House and Senate throughout the year, with the Gold Medal Ceremony/Summit taking place each June at a Ceremony in the U.S. Capitol.
  • The Congressional Award is a public/private partnership. 
  • Although created by Congress, the Congressional Award Program is funded entirely through private-sector donations.
  • Congress provides in-kind support, including office space, the medals from the U.S. Mint and the audit oversight by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). 
  • This program remains one of the most cost-effective programs available that takes no federal tax dollars.
  • To date, more than 8.1 million hours of service have been contributed to communities across the country as a part of the Congressional Award Program. 
  • There are currently more than 50,000 youth enrolled in the program throughout the country, with participants residing in every congressional district.

The full text of the legislation is available here.