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Biden, Boehner to receive 2016 Laetare Medal

| Saturday, March 5, 2016

Vice President Joe Biden and former Speaker of the House John Boehner will jointly receive the Laetare Medal at Notre Dame’s 2016 Commencement, the University announced in a press release Saturday.

The Laetare Medal is awarded each year to American Catholics “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity,” according to the press release.

University President Fr. John Jenkins commended both men for their dedication to the nation and for their civility. 

“While both have been loyal and committed partisans, they were leaders who put the good of the nation ahead of partisan victory, seeking through respectful dialogue honorable compromise and progress,” Jenkins said in the press release. “Speaker Boehner’s resistance to a simple reductionism made him suspect in his own party; Vice President Biden reminded his fellow Democrats that those in the other party are ‘our opponents, not our enemies.’”

According to the press release, Vice President Biden has served two terms in the Obama administration, and oversaw the $840 billion stimulus package in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and leads the Ready to Work Initiative.

Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1990, former Speaker Boehner served as chairman of the House Education and Workforce Committee where he authored several reforms, including the Pension Protection Act and a school choice voucher program for low-income children in Washington, D.C., according to the press release. 

“In recognizing both men, Notre Dame is not endorsing the policy positions of either, but celebrating two lives dedicated to keeping our democratic institutions working for the common good through dialogue focused on the issues and responsible compromise,” Jenkins said in the release. 

Boehner and Biden join the ranks of past Laetare Medal recipients President John F. Kennedy, Dorothy Day, Walker Percy, Martin Sheen and many others.

The University’s 171st Commencement will be held May 15.

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