”Mr. Speaker, with great sadness I must rise to oppose this measure granting a congressional gold medal to the 14th Dalai Lama. While I greatly admire and respect His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and fully recognize his tremendous status both as a Buddhist leader and international advocate for peace, I must object to the manner in which this body chooses to honor him.
"I wonder if my colleagues see the irony in honoring a devout Buddhist monk with a material gift of gold. The Buddhist tradition, of course, eschews worldly possessions in favor of purity of thought and action. Buddhism urges its practitioners to alleviate the suffering of others whenever possible. I’m sure His Holiness the Dalai Lama would rather see $30,000 spent to help those less fortunate, rather than for a feel-good congressional gesture.
"We cannot forget that Congress has no authority under the Constitution to spend taxpayer money on medals and awards, no matter how richly deserved. And I reiterate my offer of $100 from my own pocket to pay for this medal–if members wish to honor the Dalai Lama, all we need to do is pay for it ourselves. If all 435 of us contribute, the cost will be roughly $70 each. So while a gold medal sounds like a great idea, it becomes a bit strange when we see the actual cost involved.”
The whole speech can be found at: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/record.xpd?id=109-h20060913-50&bill=s109-2784