WASHINGTON (AP) _ The House approved and sent to the White House Tuesday legislation awarding a Congressional Gold Medal to the late Peanuts comic strip creator Charles Schulz.

The gold medal is the highest civilian honor given by Congress. The House last month voted to award the medal to Pope John Paul II.

The measure, which the House passed by voice after unanimous approval by the Senate, commends Schulz for giving ``the nation a unique sense of optimism, purpose, and pride. Whether through the Great Pumpkin Patch, the Kite Eating Tree, Lucy's Psychiatric Help Stand, or Snoopy's adventures with the Red Baron, `Peanuts' embodied human vulnerabilities, emotions, and potential.''

The 77-year-old cartoonist died in February. He had announced in November he would retire after being diagnosed with colon cancer.

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The bill is H.R. 3642.