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Lawmakers Seek to Posthumously Award Congressional Gold Medal to Aretha Franklin

WASHINGTON — A group of lawmakers introduced legislation on Tuesday to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Aretha Franklin, who died last week.

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) are among the co-sponsors of the legislation in the Senate, while Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Mich.) and Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) are co-sponsors in the House.

In a statement, Harris said Franklin “was simply a legend. Her work and impact will be felt for generations to come, and it’s long past time Congress honor her with the Congressional Gold Medal.”

She said, “from listening to ‘Mary Don’t You Weep,’ to standing in the living room dancing to ‘Rock Steady’ over and over again, to hearing from the Queen herself how lucky I was to be young, gifted, and black — Aretha’s songs were the soundtrack of my childhood.”

Hatch said Franklin “brought light, laughter, and love to all who would hear. I’m grateful to play a small role in honoring the life of this remarkable artist.”

Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow, the two Democratic senators from Franklin’s home state, Michigan, also are co-sponsors.

The Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom are the highest civilian honors in the U.S. government. The last recipient was former senator Bob Dole, awarded on Sept. 15 last year.

The last entertainer to be honored was Frank Sinatra, who was awarded the medal on May 14, 1997. It has also been awarded to Aaron Copland, Harry Chapin, and George and Ira Gershwin.

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