WASHINGTON – Legislation introduced by U.S. Sens. Cory Booker D- N.J. and Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., to award the Congressional Gold Medal -- the nation’s highest civilian honor -- to those who participated in the 1965 Voting Rights March from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, has passed the US Senate. Because the US House passed identical legislation earlier this month, with President Obama’s signature of the bill the Congressional Gold Medal will be awarded to the “Foot Soldiers” of the march.

The passage of this legislation comes in time to honor the fifty year anniversary of the heroism displayed by the marchers, who are set to gather in Selma next month to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the march.

“The passage of this legislation today comes nearly fifty years after the marchers at Selma ushered in a new chapter of American history. This recognition by the United States Senate is a deserving and timely way to honor their efforts and the anniversary of the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” said Senator Booker. “As we confront the myriad of challenges our country continues to face, we do so with the knowledge that we drink deeply from wells of freedom and liberty that we did not ourselves dig. This Award is a small token of our collective national gratitude to the courageous men and women who sacrificed so much to move our country forward.”

Original co-sponsors include: Sens. Schumer D-N.Y., Baldwin D-W.I., Boxer D-C.A., Donnelly D-I.N., Alexander R-T.N., Ayotte R-N.H., Barrasso R-W.Y., Blumenthal D-C.T., Blunt R-M.O., Burr R-N.C., Capito R-W.V., Coats R-I.N., Cochran R-M.S., Collins R-M.E., Corker R-T.N., Cotton R-A.R., Cruz R-T.X., Daines R-M.T., Durbin D-I.L., Feinstein D-C.A., Franken D-M.N., Gillibrand D-N.Y., Hatch R-U.T., Hirono D-H.I., Hoeven R-N.D., Isakson R-G.A., Johnson R-W.I., Kaine D-V.A., Klobuchar D-M.N., Leahy D-V.T., Menendez D-N.J., Merkley D-O.R., Mikulski D-M.D., Murkowski R-A.K., Murphy D-C.T., Murray D-W.A., Nelson D-F.L., Perdue R-G.A., Peters D-M.I., Portman R-O.H., Reid D-N.V., Risch R-I.D., Rubio R-F.L., Sanders D-V.T., Sasse R-N.E., Scott R-S.C., Sessions R-A.L., Shaheen D-N.H., Shelby R-A.L., Warren D-M.A., Whitehouse D-R.I., Wicker R-M.S., Wyden D-O.R., Heinrich D-N.M., Bennett D-C.O., Brown D-O.H., Cardin D-M.D., Coons D-D.E., Cornyn R-T.X., Inhofe R-O.K., McCaskill D-M.O., McConnell R-K.Y., Reed D-R.I., Schatz D-H.I., Stabenow D-M.I., and Thune R-S.D.

Representatives Martha Roby (AL-2) and Terri Sewell (AL-7) introduced identical language in the House of Representatives that passed on February 11 by a vote of 420 to 0.