The award is "in recognition of his service to the nation in promoting excellence and good sportsmanship in golf."
The House of Representatives already passed legislation awarding Nicklaus the medal in a vote of 373 to 4. That bill had 341 co-sponsors.
"As perhaps the greatest golfer of all time, Jack Nicklaus has already earned legendary status for his athletic achievements, his true sportsmanship on the golf course, and his promotion of the game" Portman said in a statement on Tuesday. "Yet in addition to Jack’s career in golf, he and Barbara have positively impacted the lives of thousands of children and their families through the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation and other initiatives. We should recognize this native Ohioan for his extraordinary accomplishments."
Brown highlighted Nicklaus's Ohio background. Nicklaus was born in Columbus and attended The Ohio State University.
"Known across the world for his records on the golf course, it’s his hometown Ohio roots that ground his lasting legacy," Brown also said in the statement. "The Congressional Gold Medal is one of our nation’s highest honors and it’s fitting that the Golden Bear, who set records on the golf course and set the highest standards for service and philanthropy in our communities, receives it."