House votes to award Congressional Gold Medals to Americans killed in Benghazi

Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives have passed legislation to posthumously award the Congressional Gold Medal to the four Americans killed in the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., passed the House on Tuesday via a voice vote to award Congress’ highest expression of national appreciation to U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, State Department employee Sean Smith and two contract security offices and former Navy SEALs, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods.

The four men were killed in a five-hour attack on the building that was orchestrated by Islamic militant groups, including Al-Qaeda-linked Ansar al-Sharia, which was designated by the United States as a Foreign Terrorist organization in January 2014.

Ahmed Abu Khattala, who prosecutors accused of being the mastermind behind the attack, was sentenced to 22 years in prison in June of 2018 after being found guilty of committing several terrorism-related charges but not the most serious, including murder.

During the floor debate Tuesday, Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Miss., called the four men “heroes” who should be honored.

Wagner detailed how each of the men had performed years of service for the United States government and military and died while serving their country.

“Honor these men with the recognition they deserve,” she said, urging her colleagues to vote “yes” to the resolution.

Lynch from the floor told the House that it is “more than fitting” to award the four men the congressional medal with September being the 10th anniversary of their deaths.

“The commissioning of the Congressional Gold Medal in honor of these four exceptional Americans will appropriately recognize their heroism, bravery and sacrifice on behalf of a grateful nation,” he said.

The bill will now need to be voted on by the Senate before being sent to the desk of President Joe Biden to be signed into law.

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