“I am very humbled,” Arnold said.
Jack Nicklaus, Palmer’s longtime rival and friend, attended the ceremony.
From Ron Driscoll of the USGA:
If there is one thing both Democrats and Republicans can agree on, it is recognition of Palmer. The bill to award the medal to Palmer passed 422–1 in the House and unanimously in the Senate. In addition, chief executives from both parties have honored Palmer: The three-time USGA champion received the National Sports Award from President Bill Clinton in 1993, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush in 2004.The Congressional Gold Medal honors those “who have performed an achievement that has an impact on American history and culture that is likely to be recognized as a major achievement in the recipient’s field long after the achievement.”
In a display of bipartisan support, the Congressional leadership of both parties was on hand for Wednesday’s presentation: Speaker of the House John Boehner of Ohio and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, both Republicans; and Senator Harry Reid of Nevada and Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, both Democrats.
“I’m particularly proud of anything the House and the Senate agree on,” Palmer joked.
The five athletes who previously received the Congressional Gold Medal are baseball players Roberto Clemente and Jackie Robinson, track and field standout Jesse Owens, boxer Joe Louis and 1939 U.S. Open champion Byron Nelson, who received the honor posthumously in 2006.