Congress established the Congressional Award in 1979 to recognize initiative, achievement and service in young people.
It began as a bipartisan effort in both the United States Senate and the House of Representatives. Originally, the bill was sponsored by Senator Malcolm Wallop of Wyoming and the late Congressman James Howard of New Jersey.
The enabling legislation (Public Law 96-114) established the Congressional Award as a private-public partnership, which receives all funding from the private sector, and was originally signed into law by President Jimmy Carter. Former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and current President Barack Obama have each signed continuing legislation.