Rep. Eshoo and Sen. Booker Introduce Legislation to Improve the National Civilian Medals

December 10, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the National Civilian Medals Improvement Act today to elevate America’s National Civilian Medals and better recognize the accomplishments of their recipients.

Since the 1980s, the National Civilian Medals have been awarded by the president to recognize outstanding achievements in science, technology, arts, and the humanities. Presidents have awarded the medals inconsistently, with no medals in some categories being awarded by the current president during his term.

“Our country has produced outstanding scientists who have led the world in scientific discoveries and technological innovation, yet the National Civilian Medals created to honor them have not been awarded for more than four years,” Rep. Eshoo said. “The recipients of these medals are among the brightest minds in our country, yet the medals themselves lack the prestige of better-known awards like the Nobel Prizes. My legislation requires the president to award the National Civilian Medals annually to better honor the accomplishments of these extraordinary Americans and raise the visibility and stature of the medals and their recipients.”

“The United States is home to some of the greatest scientists, artists, and innovators in the world,” said Senator Booker. “Their contributions have changed our country and our world, and we have a responsibility to foster their growth not only through investments in their ideas but through recognition as well. This bill will help to ensure that our brightest thinkers receive the acknowledgment they so rightfully deserve.”

“I applaud Representative Eshoo's leadership and vision in creating a day of national convergence for science, technology, and innovation,” said Andy Rathmann-Noonan, executive director of the National Science and Technology Medals Foundation. “This bill marks a worthy and timely commitment from the House to honor the individuals responsible for the greatest leaps forward in science and technology. Their work makes us healthier, smarter, and more connected every day. We at the NSTMF look forward to honoring, annually, future classes of NMS and NMTI Laureates.”

“Americans for the Arts is pleased to endorse the National Civilian Medals Improvement Act, which will ensure the regular acknowledgment and celebration of significant accomplishments in the arts, humanities, technology and innovation, science, and social sciences,” said Robert L. Lynch, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “We applaud the leadership of Senator Booker and Congresswoman Eshoo in bringing this bill forward.”

Background

The U.S. currently has four National Civilian Medals that are awarded by the president:

  • The National Medal of Science
  • The National Medal of Arts
  • The National Humanities Medal
  • The National Medal of Technology and Innovation

The National Medals Improvement Act standardizes the criteria across the medals and requires each to be awarded annually to no more than five recipients on a fixed schedule. The bill also establishes a new National Medal of Social Sciences to recognize outstanding achievements in economics, psychology, political science, and other behavioral and social scientific disciplines.

Rep. Eshoo and Senator Booker wrote to President Trump in March of 2019 encouraging him to award the National Medal of Science and the National Medal of Technology and Innovation to deserving recipients. To date, these medals have not been awarded since 2016 and 2015, respectively.

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