What is H.R. 5142?
(Updated February 23, 2022)
This bill was enacted on December 16, 2021
This bill would posthumously award a Congressional Gold Medal to the 13 American servicemembers who were killed in a terror attack amid the U.S. evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 26, 2021 — the deadliest day for the U.S. military in Afghanistan in more than a decade. The names of the fallen servicemembers are Staff Sgt. Darin Taylor Hoover, Sgt. Johanny Rosario Pichardo, Sgt. Nicole Gee, Cpl. Hunter Lopez, Cpl. Daegan Page, Cpl. Humberto Sanchez, Cpl. David Lee Espinoza, Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola, Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, Hospitalman Maxton Soviak and Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss. The Congressional Gold Medal would be given to the Smithsonian Institution and would be available for display outside of the District of Columbia at times, particularly at locations associated with those servicemembers.
The Treasury Dept. would be authorized to strike and sell bronze duplicates of the gold medal at a price sufficient to cover the cost of production, including labor, materials, dies, use of machinery, and overhead expenses.
Argument in favor
The 13 U.S. servicemembers who were killed in the terror attack at the Kabul Airport represented the best of America by putting their lives on the line to help civilians evacuate Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover. For displaying such courage in an impossibly difficult situation and making the ultimate sacrifice, Congress should posthumously award the Congressional Gold Medal in their honor.
While the loss of 13 U.S. servicemembers in Kabul was tragic and they displayed heroism in helping civilians evacuate as safely as possible, there’s no need for Congress to posthumously award a Congressional Gold Medal in their honor.
Families and friends of the fallen servicemembers; Congress; the Treasury Dept.; and the Smithsonian Institution.
Cost of H.R. 5142
A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.
In-Depth: Rep. Lisa McClain (R-MI) introduced this bill to posthumously award the Congressional Gold Medal to the 13 American servicemembers who were killed in a terror attack at the Kabul Airport on August 26, 2021, amid the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. McClain offered the following statement on the introduction of this bill:
“These heroic men and women are gone far too soon, and we must honor them for their bravery in helping U.S. citizens and Afghan allies safely evacuate Afghanistan. My heart aches for the families and loved ones of our servicemembers. We will always remember their service and pay tribute to their sacrifice.”
Original cosponsor Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) added:
“These servicemembers risked their lives to uphold America’s highest values. They are heroes, and their legacy will be the thousands of Afghans who are alive today because these brave men and women put their lives on the line to give them a ticket to freedom. We must never forget.”
This legislation has the support of 323 bipartisan cosponsors, including 195 Republicans and 128 Democrats.
Of Note: The Congressional Gold Medal is considered to be one of the most prestigious ways for Congress to recognize individuals or institutions and express public gratitude on behalf of the nation. To award it, Congress passes a bill that is signed into law by the president, at which point there is a process for designing, minting, and awarding the gold medal. After the medal is struck, a formal ceremony is often scheduled for it to be awarded to the recipient. It is not to be confused with the Congressional Medal of Honor, which is the nation’s highest military award for bravery and is awarded by the president in the name of Congress.
The first Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to George Washington during the Revolutionary War in 1776, and for decades it was primarily awarded to military leaders. Since then, it has been awarded more broadly to over a hundred individuals and groups, including the Little Rock Nine, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the Navajo Code Talkers, and the Fallen Heroes of 9/11.
All Congressional Gold Medal legislation must be cosponsored by at least two-thirds of the House and Senate before either chamber’s committees will consider the bills.
Summary by Eric Revell(Photo Credit: U.S. Air Force photo by Jason Minto / Public Domain)
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