S. 614: A bill to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots

S. 614

A bill to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots

Date
June 16, 2009 (111th Congress, 1st Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

S. 614 is being considered under suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds vote for passage. The legislation was introduced by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson (R-TX) on March 17, 2009.

Bill Summary

S. 614 directs the awarding of a single gold medal in honor of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) collectively, for their military service and record, which forged reform in the U.S. Armed Forces. The bill also requires the medal to be displayed at the Smithsonian Institution and elsewhere after its award, particularly at other locations associated with the WASP.

The Treasury Department would sell duplicates of the medal in bronze at a price sufficient to cover costs of the gold medal. The gold medal and duplicate bronze medals would be paid for using funds from the U.S. Mint Public Enterprise Fund, and funds collected from the sale of duplicate bronze medals would be deposited in the same fund.

 

Background

According to CRS, the Congressional Gold Medal has been bestowed by Congress to honor roughly 300 different individuals since 1776. General George Washington was the first person to receive the Congressional Gold Medal in March of 1776 in recognition of his "wise and spirited" conduct during the siege of Boston. More recently, a Congressional Gold Medal bill was passed in honor of golfer Arnold Palmer.


CBO generally estimates that it costs between $30,000 and $35,000 to create a Gold Medal. According to Treasury, each Congressional Gold Medal contains 16 ounces of gold. As of May 2009, gold was trading for $919.55 an ounce. Assuming relatively comparable gold prices when the medal is produced, the medal authorized by this bill would need approximately $14,712.80 worth of gold. Additional sums authorized under the legislation would be used to pay for the design of the medal. Often, duplicate bronze medal sales are not enough to offset the cost of the gold medal. However, in some cases, sales of duplicate medals for very popular individuals offset their gold medal costs.


The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) of World War II were the first women in history to fly U.S. military aircraft. Collectively, they flew over 60 million miles on every type of assignment flown by the male Army Air Forces pilots, except combat. Their service was particularly important during the earlier months of the war, when there was a severe shortage of combat pilots.

Cost

There is no Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost estimate yet available for S. 614