In anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the first attempted Civil Rights march from Selma to Montgomery, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote this week to approve H.R. 431, which would award Congressional Gold Medals to participants in that march or the two that followed.

As the resolution reads, “On March 7, 1965, over 500 voting rights marchers known as ‘foot soldiers’ gathered on the Edmund Pettus bridge in Selma, Alabama, in peaceful protest of the denial of their most sacred and constitutionally protected right — the right to vote.”

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There will not, however, be 500 medals handed out. Instead, one medal will be given to the Selma Interpretative Center in Selma. Any individuals who participated in the marches may obtain one for themselves at cost.

The resolution also officially acknowledges the role the marches played in the Civil Rights Movement. According to the resolution, the marches from Selma to Montgomery brought “national attention to the struggle for equal voting rights, and served as the catalyst for Congress to pass the voting rights act of 1965, which President Johnson signed into law on August 6, 1965.”

Keystone Pipeline Bill Hits the House Floor

This week, The U.S. House of Representatives will have the opportunity to vote on S.1, called the “Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act.”

When it was approved in the Senate, the vote largely fell along party lines, with only nine Democrats voting against the bill, which would approve construction of the controversial Keystone oil pipeline.

President Barack Obama is expected to veto the bill when it hits his desk.

In 2013, when a similar measure hit the House floor, every member of Connecticut’s delegation voted against the pipeline.

“Ultimately, tar sands oil is not a solution to our country’s energy needs,” U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, said at the time. “We need to be focusing on investments in clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency to boost our economy and put our country on a sustainable path for the long term. I will continue to stand up for the environment and advocate for solutions that move us towards a clean-energy future.”

U.S. Rep. John Larson, though he voted against the bill in 2013, did speak positively about the pipeline.

“Construction will help our nation’s workforce and support jobs,” he said in a release. “However, it still has to go through a process — and as the president has indicated — the administration must conduct due diligence in its review to ensure it satisfies the proper environmental criteria.”

Jordan Fenster is an award-winning freelance journalist. He lives with his family in Fairfield County. He can be reached by or @JordanFenster on Twitter.

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We are launching this feature in conjunction with our installation of new software from VoteTocracy.com, which provides a database of information on bills and lawmakers from around the country, and the option to register with VoteTocracy to vote “yes” or “no” on bills your delegates are considering.

Just float your mouse over the highlighted words below, and windows will pop up to provide you with more information. VoteTocracy is free for you to use. Just follow instructions to register and let your voice be heard. Click here for more info on VoteTocracy. We hope you enjoy this new feature!