Commemorations in Congress: Options for Honoring Individuals, Groups, and Events [May 9, 2014] [open pdf - 339KB]
"Since its inception, Congress has used commemorative legislation to express public gratitude for distinguished contributions; dramatize the virtues of individuals, groups, and causes; and perpetuate the remembrance of significant events. During the past two centuries, commemoratives have become an integral part of the American political tradition. They have been used to authorize the minting of commemorative coins and Congressional Gold Medals; fund monuments and memorials; create federal holidays; establish commissions to celebrate important anniversaries; and name public works, scholarships, endowments, fellowships, and historic sites. Current congressional practice for commemoratives includes a House Rule (Rule XII, clause 5, initially adopted during the 104th Congress (1995-1996)) that precludes the introduction or consideration of legislation that commemorates 'any remembrance, celebration, or recognition for any purpose through the designation of a special period of time.' Such a rule does not exist in the Senate. This change to House Rules, together with the passage of more restrictive laws, rules, and procedures governing the enactment of several other types of commemoratives, has substantially reduced the time Congress spends considering and adopting such measures. This report summarizes the evolution of commemorative legislation as well as the laws, rules, and procedures that have been adopted to control the types of commemoratives considered and enacted."
CRS Report for Congress, R43539