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Edward William Brooke III Congressional Gold Medal Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the Senate bill (S. 682) to award a congressional gold medal to Edward William Brooke III in recognition of his unprecedented and enduring service to our Nation.

The Clerk read the title of the Senate bill.

The text of the Senate bill is as follows:
S. 682

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the ``Edward William Brooke III Congressional Gold Medal Act''.


The Congress finds as follows:

(1) Edward William Brooke III was the first African American elected by popular vote to the United States Senate and served with distinction for 2 terms from January 3, 1967, to January 3, 1979.

(2) In 1960, Senator Brooke began his public career when Governor John Volpe appointed him chairman of the Boston Finance Commission, where the young lawyer established an outstanding record of confronting and eliminating graft and corruption and proposed groundbreaking legislation for consumer protection and against housing discrimination and air pollution.

(3) At a time when few African Americans held State or Federal office, Senator Brooke became an exceptional pioneer, beginning in 1962, when he made national and State history by being elected Attorney General of Massachusetts, the first African American in the Nation to serve as a State Attorney General, the second highest office in the State, and the only Republican to win statewide in the election that year, at a time when there were fewer than 1,000 African American officials in our nation.

(4) He won office as a Republican in a state that was strongly Democratic.

(5) As Massachusetts Attorney General, Senator Brooke became known for his fearless and honest execution of the laws of his State and for his vigorous prosecution of organized crime.

(6) The pioneering accomplishments of Edward William Brooke III in public service were achieved although he was raised in Washington, DC at a time when the Nation's capital was a city where schools, public accommodations, and other institutions were segregated, and when the District of Columbia did not have its own self-governing institutions or elected officials.

(7) Senator Brooke graduated from Paul Laurence Dunbar High School and went on to graduate from Howard University in 1941.

(8) Senator Brooke's enduring advocacy for self-government and congressional voting rights for the citizens of Washington, DC has roots in his life and personal experience as a native Washingtonian.

(9) Senator Brooke served for 5 years in the United States Army in the segregated 366th Infantry Regiment during World War II in the European theater of operations, attaining the rank of captain and receiving a Bronze Star Medal for ``heroic or meritorious achievement or service'' and the Distinguished Service Award.

(10) After the war, Senator Brooke attended Boston University School of Law, where he served as editor of the school's Law Review, graduating with an LL.B. in 1948 and an LL.M. in 1949, and made Massachusetts his home.

(11) During his career in Congress, Senator Brooke was a leader on some of the most critical issues of his time, including the war in Vietnam, the struggle for civil rights, the shameful system of apartheid in South Africa, the Cold War, and United States' relations with the People's Republic of China.

(12) President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Senator Brooke to the President's Commission on Civil Disorders in 1967, where his work on discrimination in housing would serve as the basis for the 1968 Civil Rights Act.

(13) Senator Brooke continued to champion open housing when he left the Senate and became the head of the National Low-Income Housing Coalition.

(14) Senator Brooke has been recognized with many high honors, among them the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004, an honor that recognizes ``an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors''; the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit from the Government of Italy; a State courthouse dedicated in his honor by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, making him the first African American to have a State courthouse named in his honor; the NAACP Spingarn Medal; and the Charles Evans Hughes award from the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

(15) Senator Brooke's biography, Bridging The Divide: My Life, was published in 2006, and he is the author of The Challenge of Change: Crisis in Our Two-Party System, published in 1966.

(16) Senator Brooke became a racial pioneer, but race was never at the center of his political campaigns.

(17) He demonstrated to all that with commitment, determination, and strength of character, even the barriers once thought insurmountable can be overcome.

(18) He has devoted his life to the service of others, and made enormous contributions to our society today.

(19) The life and accomplishments of Senator Brooke is inspiring proof, as he says, that ``people can be elected on the basis of their qualifications and not their race''.


(a) Presentation Authorized.--The Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the Senate shall make appropriate arrangements for the presentation, on behalf of the Congress, of a gold medal of appropriate design to Edward William Brooke III in recognition of his unprecedented and enduring service to our Nation.

(b) Design and Striking.--For purposes of the presentation referred to in subsection (a), the Secretary of the Treasury (hereafter in this Act referred to as the ``Secretary'') shall strike a gold medal with suitable emblems, devices, and inscriptions, to be determined by the Secretary.


The Secretary may strike and sell duplicates in bronze of the gold medal struck pursuant to section 3 under such regulations as the Secretary may prescribe, at a price sufficient to cover the cost thereof, including labor, materials, dies, use of machinery, and overhead expenses, and the cost of the gold medal.


(a) National Medals.--The medals struck pursuant to this Act are national medals for purposes of chapter 51 of title 31, United States Code.

(b) Numismatic Items.--For purposes of section 5134 of title 31, United States Code, all medals struck under this Act shall be considered to be numismatic items.


(a) Authority To Use Fund Amounts.--There is authorized to be charged against the United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund, such amounts as may be necessary to pay for the costs of the medals struck pursuant to this Act.

(b) Proceeds of Sale.--Amounts received from the sale of duplicate bronze medals authorized under section 4 shall be deposited into the United States Mint Public Enterprise Fund.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule the, gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Frank) and the gentlewoman from West Virginia (Mrs. Capito) each will control 20 minutes

The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Massachusetts.

Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, this bill was sponsored in the Senate by our very cherished colleague, Senator Kennedy, who served with former Senator Brooke for many years. It has been carried in the House with great vigor and care by our colleague from the District of Columbia (Ms. Norton) and I yield her such time as she may consume.


Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. I yield myself 4 minutes.

I consider it a great honor to be able to stand on the floor of this House and as the Chair of the committee bring out the bill that would honor Ed Brooke. As a citizen of Massachusetts in 1972 and again in 1978, and as a fairly partisan Democrat, I was proud publicly to endorse him for reelection both times to the Senate.

The gentlewoman from the District of Columbia made the point he was the first African American elected attorney general and then to the Senate only shortly after this country officially said segregation was morally and legally wrong. 1954 was the Brown v. Board of Education decision, not made final until 1955 in its decree. Seven years later Ed Brooke is elected attorney general. And as we look back now, it is probably difficult for some people to understand what an important accomplishment that was. But he is not a man who should be honored simply for having broken those barriers, because having gotten the opportunity, he used it.

The committee I chair has jurisdiction over housing. As I work in the housing area, I find myself frequently trying to preserve some of the pioneering efforts on behalf of affordable housing that Ed Brooke created. I was very proud about a month or so ago when he called to say that he liked what we were doing.

I was just reminded, Mr. Speaker, when I was up in our State of Massachusetts over the weekend, that it was in 1978, in his last year in the Senate, that Ed Brooke began the policy of saying that when housing had been built with Federal help with a certain restriction that set it aside for lower income people and those restrictions expire, it shouldn't be simply sold to the highest bidder, but that public policy ought to make some efforts to preserve it for people who were in need of housing. We are still fighting that fight today.

We have something known as the Brooke amendment, one of the greatest acts of compassion ever to pass this body. It said originally that the poorest of the poor who get housing through various public programs shouldn't be expected to pay more than 25 percent of their income for housing, precisely because they have so little. That was changed, regrettably, in the eighties. I voted against it, but it was changed to 30 percent. But it is still there. It is still the Brooke amendment. It is still a major barrier to a degradation in the quality of life of lower income people, because there are those who would make them pay 40 and 50 and 60 percent of their income, depriving them and their children of the necessities of life. So it is with great pride that we fight and have fought to continue the Brooke amendment.

Senator Brooke was a leader in a number of areas. Yes, he broke the barrier of racism and became the first African American to win statewide office in Massachusetts and then to come to the Senate at a time when racism was even more virulent than it is today. We have made strides in diminishing it.

But, as I said, he didn't just do that. He was a leader in a number of areas, and particularly in the housing area. I don't believe anybody who has ever served in the Congress of the United States has a record that exceeds his.

So I am delighted to join under the leadership of our colleague Senator Kennedy and the gentlewoman from the District of Columbia (Ms. Norton) in voting for this medal, the second medal, the third medal that Brooke will have gotten, because he got the Presidential Medal of Freedom and he earned the Bronze Medal in World War II, fighting in a segregated outfit, putting patriotism ahead of the indignities to which he submitted in the fight against that terrible tyranny.

This is a medal well earned by a man who exemplified the commitment to the public welfare that we could well remember today.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that because of the energy of a number of people, we are going to be awarding this gold medal to a man who so richly deserves it.

I reserve the balance of my time.


Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, I am about to yield back.

Ed Brooke, in addition to being a superb United States Senator who fought very hard and very effectively for economic fairness and obviously against racial prejudice, but he also was the chief law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for 4 years.

Just to give people a flavor of that, I will mention one accomplishment. It was under his attorney generalship that the Boston Strangler was prosecuted and imprisoned. So people who may not otherwise be able to relate should know. And if you saw him in the movie, I think he was played by Raymond St. Jacques, but if you go see again the movie of the Boston Strangler, you will see a part of that book. We are here to talk about a number of other parts, including a superb legislative record on behalf of social fairness.

I am prepared to yield back if the gentlewoman is.


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