Dr. Muhammad Yunus awarded the Congressional Gold Medal
On September 23rd, the House of Representatives passed a bill to award Muhammad Yunus the Congressional Gold Medal!
The House passed the Senate version (which was approved in 2009), which avoids having to conference (reconcile) two versions. The bill passed without opposition and without a roll call vote because it was a non-controversial bill. The president will now sign the bill, probably within the next couple of weeks. We’ll definitely let you know when that happens.
This passage is truly an amazing accomplishment! RESULTS activists were the only group working on the bill, which had to meet the extremely high threshold of securing two-thirds of each chamber — 67 senators and 290 representatives — as cosponsors; in fact, we got 296 representatives!
By happy chance, earlier this week Sam Daley-Harris, founder of RESULTS and the Microcredit Summit Campaign, was with Prof. Yunus in New York City for the Clinton Global Initiative. Sam told him that the bill would be voted on and passed this week. Prof Yunus said, “It passed in the Senate but it never passes in the House.” But when Sam assured him it would pass and that the power of RESULTS volunteers was behind it, Prof. Yunus got very excited and said, “Let me know as soon as it happens.” Remember, Prof. Yunus has won the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and countless other awards. But he knew what an rare honor it is to receive the Congressional Gold Medal, and he wouldn’t let himself believe it would really happen! But thanks to RESULTS activists, it did!
During the session, Reps Rush Holt (D-NJ), Andre Carson (D-IN), Spencer Bachus (R-AL), Jim McDermott (D-WA), and Danny Davis (D-IL) spoke on behalf of the bill.
Rep. Holt, who introduced the bill and was the member driving the bill forward (with the help of many other representatives who we had encouraged), thanked RESULTS volunteers around the country for their work: “Finally, I’d like to acknowledge some of the people who helped bring this bill to the floor…Grassroots members of the RESULTS advocacy organization from around the country have helped raise awareness about microfinance and the efforts to recognize Muhammad Yunus for his efforts.”
Rep. McDermott stressed that getting 290 members to sign something is not an easy thing to do in the House, and he mentioned a time RESULTS helped to bring him and Prof. Yunus together: “I also had the opportunity to introduce him when he came to Seattle to a RESULTS dinner where there were about 500 people.”
You can listen to the remarks by visiting the following links:
Rep. McDermott: http://www.c-spanvideo.org/videoLibrary/clip.php?appid=598838127
We will work with the offices of Sen. Durbin and Rep. Holt to organize a ceremony for awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to Prof. Yunus. This ceremony is a tremendous opportunity to raise the awareness of the power of microfinance to change lives; build bipartisan support in Congress; and send a signal to USAID and the World Bank that the U.S. is committed to microfinance.