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Congress votes Gold Medal for Shimon Peres

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Ezra Friedlander, left, chats outside the U.S. Capitol with Rep. Joe Kennedy (Mass.) on May 19 after Congress passed a bill awarding Israeli President Shimon Peres its Gold Medal. Kennedy cosponsored the bill with Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and Friedlander led lobbying for it. (Ezra Friedlander)

Lobbyist Ezra Friedlander, left, chatting outside the U.S. Capitol with U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy of Massachusetts after Congress passed a bill awarding Israeli President Shimon Peres its Gold Medal, May 19, 2014. (Ezra Friedlander)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation that would award Israeli President Shimon Peres the Congressional Gold Medal.

The voice vote on Monday came after the U.S. Senate passed similar legislation in March, also by acclamation.

Peres, 90, whose term ends in July, is due to visit the United States toward the end of June and will meet with President Obama, who in 2012 awarded the Israeli leader the presidential Medal of Freedom. There likely will be no official ceremony during the visit because of the time it takes for the U.S. Mint to cast a new medal.

Reps. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) sponsored the House bill. Leading the lobbying for its passage was the Friedlander Group, a New York City-based lobbyist.

Peres becomes one of nine people to win both the congressional and presidential medals, the highest U.S. civilian honors.

Among the others are Natan Sharansky, the former prisoner of Zion who now leads the Jewish Agency for Israel; Elie Wiesel, the Holocaust memoirist and, like Peres, a Nobel Peace laureate; Simon Wiesenthal, the late Nazi hunter; and Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the late leader of the Lubavitch movement.

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