Lawmakers Propose Congressional Gold Medal for Blair

Several U.S. lawmakers are backing a proposal honoring British Prime Minister Tony Blair with the Congressional Gold Medal, saying that Blair has earned the nation's highest expression of appreciation for his steadfast commitment to the wars on terror and Iraq.

Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Fla., introduced the House version Monday. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., offered the same measure last week. It calls for Blair to receive the medal "in recognition of his outstanding and enduring contributions to maintaining the security of all freedom-loving nations."

"America has many allies, but as we have seen in recent months, we can count on Great Britain to fulfill the duties of a true friend in tough times. I applaud Tony Blair's extraordinary leadership and his continued support of the United States," Brown-Waite said in a statement.

"Great Britain has long been a trusted ally of our nation; however, Prime Minister Blair has gone beyond friendship to demonstrate true leadership for his nation and for Europe," Dole added from the Senate floor.

The House version currently has 10 co-sponsors. Brown-Waite has sent around a letter to her colleagues seeking additional support. The Senate bill has 18 co-sponsors.

Congress created the Congressional Gold Medal honor in 1776 to recognize military leaders. The first recipient was George Washington, who was selected for his heroic service in the Revolutionary War.

Since that time, the award has been given to world leaders and humanitarians. Past recipients include General Douglas McArthur, General Colin Powell, Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II and Prime Minister Winston Churchill.