Audience members socialize before the start of the ceremony, which took place in the hall of the Capitol Rotunda. (Renzo Downey/MNS)Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell greets his former Senate colleague, Sen. Bob Dole, before giving his remarks. "This soldier, statesman and American hero has never stopped fighting for those that have less power and less strength than he does," McConnell said. (Renzo Downey/MNS)Speaker of the House Paul Ryan awards Dole with the Congressional Gold Medal. The award is the highest civilian honor given by the legislature, which it has been doing since Congress was established. (Renzo Downey/MNS)Dole thanks his colleagues and staff for the support they gave him while he served in Congress. (Renzo Downey/MNS)Dole's wife, former North Carolina Sen. Elizabeth Dole, gave the majority of Dole's thank you speech. "It was Everett Dirksen who famously observed, 'I am a man of fixed and unbending principles, and one of my principles is flexibility,'" she said of her husband's bipartisan efforts while a Republican leader. (Renzo Downey/MNS)President Trump congratulates the senator after the Doles' acceptance speeches. Trump praised Dole's resilience and recovery after sustaining his injuries during World War II. (Renzo Downey/MNS)

WASHINGTON — Congressional leaders Wednesday presented former Kansas Sen. Bob Dole with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest distinction awarded by Congress. 

President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi were among those who praised Dole’s service to the Senate. 

“Home was where Bob Dole learned the classic American grit. He knows about grit,” Trump said. 

“Because of how faithfully he had fulfilled that first oath, Bob Dole could no longer raise his right hand, but he wasn’t done serving his country,” McConnell said. “So he walked into the statehouse, raised his left hand, and began the next chapter in a life filled with patriotic sacrifice and public service.” 

In a political environment characterized by partisanship, the leaders praised Dole for his efforts to work across the aisle, particularly on the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

“Little of great consequence is accomplished by any legislator alone. High achievement is a joint effort, especially with leadership like yours, Bob,” Vermont Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy said. 

The award, honoring Dole’s “service to the nation as a soldier, legislator, and statesman,” was approved on Sept. 15, 2017. 

Dole led Senate Republicans as the majority and minority leader for nine years and chaired the Republican National Committee.