Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Senator Craig Thomas (R-WY) introduced the 14th Dalai Lama Congressional Gold Medal Act today, as part of a campaign to award the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s leader in exile, the Congressional Gold Medal, one of the U.S. government’s highest honors. The legislation has 75 Republican and Democratic co-sponsors.

Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari, Special Envoy of the Dalai Lama, said today: “By introducing this resolution proposing the Congressional Gold Medal for His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Senator Diane Feinstein and her colleagues have acknowledged the profound contributions of His Holiness in promoting inter-faith religious harmony and non-violent conflict resolution. Congressional passage of this bill will serve as an important recognition of the Dalai Lama’s contributions and tireless efforts to find a mutually satisfactory solution to the Tibetan issue with the Chinese leadership.”

Senator Feinstein said in a statement today: “The Dalai Lama has struggled for half a century to better the lives of the Tibetan people – armed only with his compassion, courage and conviction. In doing so, he has been a shining light to all those fighting for freedom around the world. So I cannot say how much it means to me that three quarters of the Senate have put the daily battles aside to come together to say that this man deserves our nation’s highest civilian honor — the Congressional Gold Medal. It is my hope that the Senate will pass this resolution soon.”

Past recipients of the Gold Medal include Pope John Paul II, Mother Teresa, and Nobel Peace Laureates Elie Wiesel and Nelson Mandela.

The Dalai Lama last visited Congress in November 2005, meeting with House and Senate Republican and Democratic leaders, as well as members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House International Relations Committee.

Representatives Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Lantos (D-CA) introduced the companion bill, HR 4562. For the bill to be considered by both chambers, it must be cosponsored by two-thirds of the members of both the House and the Senate.

“As was the experience in the Senate, the House bill is finding tremendous support among long-time friends and new members friends and new members who understand the value of standing in support of the Dalai Lama’s efforts to engage the Chinese in achieving human rights, equality, justice and lasting peace in Tibet,” said ICT’s Director of Government Relations, Charlotte Oldham-Moore.