21 Republicans vote against awarding medals to police who defended Capitol
The House passed legislation on Tuesday to award Congressional Gold Medals — one of the highest civilian honors — to police officers who defended the Capitol during the violent Jan. 6 insurrection.
Lawmakers handily passed the legislation. Members of both parties supported it, 406-21, with all of the votes in opposition coming from conservative Republicans.
The four medals awarded under the bill would be displayed at the Capitol Police headquarters, at the D.C. Metropolitan Police headquarters, at the Smithsonian Institution and in a “prominent location” in the Capitol.
The medal displayed in the Capitol would be accompanied with a plaque listing all of the law enforcement agencies that helped protect the building on Jan. 6 from the mob of former President Trump’s supporters who were trying to stop Congress from certifying President Biden’s election victory.
The resolution names three police officers — Brian Sicknick and Howard Liebengood of the Capitol Police and Jeffrey Smith of the Metropolitan Police — who died in the days after they were on duty at the Capitol on Jan. 6.
It also highlights the heroism of Eugene Goodman, who was serving as a Capitol Police officer on Jan. 6 and has since been promoted to acting deputy Senate sergeant-at-arms. Goodman was shown on a video captured by a reporter luring the mob away from the Senate chamber in a move that helped former Vice President Mike Pence and senators escape to safety.
The measure states that their actions “exemplify the patriotism and the commitment of Capitol Police officers, and those of other law enforcement agencies, to risk their lives in service of our country.”
“Jan. 6 was unquestionably one of the darkest days in the history of our democracy. But because of the courage of the Capitol Police and other law enforcement officers, it will also be etched in history as a day of heroism,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the lead sponsor of the bill, said on the House floor before its passage.
The House previously passed a version of the bill in March to award Congressional Gold Medals to the law enforcement agencies that helped defend the Capitol. At the time, 12 Republicans voted against the legislation.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), who voted against both versions of the bill, said Tuesday that he’s concerned its use of the term “insurrectionists” to describe the mob that stormed the Capitol could impact ongoing court cases. He rejected the notion that the Jan. 6 attack amounted to an insurrection — which Merriam-Webster defines as “an act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government.”
“I think if we call that an insurrection, it could have a bearing on their case that I don’t think would be good,” Massie said.
“If they just wanted to give the police recognition, they could have done it without trying to make it partisan, without sticking that in there,” he added.
The other Republicans who voted against the bill were Reps. Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Lauren Boebert (Colo.), Michael Cloud (Texas), Andrew Clyde (Ga.), Warren Davidson (Ohio), Matt Gaetz (Fla.), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Bob Good (Va.), Paul Gosar (Ariz.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), Andy Harris (Md.), Jody Hice (Ga.), Mary Miller (Ill.), Barry Moore (Ala.), Ralph Norman (S.C.), Scott Perry (Pa.), John Rose (Tenn.), Matt Rosendale (Mont.), Chip Roy (Texas) and Greg Steube (Fla.).
The latest version of the legislation differs from the original in that it awards the medal to be displayed inside the Capitol in addition to the other three medals.
Tuesday’s version also highlights the sacrifice of Capitol Police officer William “Billy” Evans, who was killed on April 2 after a man rammed his car into a Senate security barricade, as well as officer Kenneth Shaver, who was injured in that attack.
The Senate, meanwhile, passed a resolution at the end of Trump’s impeachment trial in February to specifically award a medal to Goodman.
The opposition from some Republicans to the bill awarding the Congressional Gold Medals to police officers marks yet another example of the lack of a unified response to the Jan. 6 attack.
All but 35 House Republicans voted against legislation last month to establish an independent bipartisan commission to investigate the events of Jan. 6. Senate Republicans subsequently blocked the bill from advancing in the upper chamber.
Davidson said that Tuesday’s vote was “an attempt to rewrite history and further a Democrat narrative.”
“House Democrats are using an opportunity to recognize the valor of our Capitol Police officers to launder a politically motivated narrative about the events of 1/6,” Davidson wrote in a series of Twitter posts.
Democrats are still mulling possible alternatives to a bipartisan commission, including establishing a select House committee to investigate the attack on the Capitol.
Pelosi met with House committee chairs on Tuesday to discuss possible next steps, but they didn’t make a final decision. Multiple committees, including the House Administration, Oversight and Reform, and Appropriations panels, have already held hearings related to federal agencies’ handling of the insurrection.
“We’ve considered several options as we look forward, but there’ll be a cascade of activity from the committees,” Pelosi said after the meeting. “We’re looking at a couple suggestions that were put forth to come to a conclusion, which will be soon.”
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