Washington, DC – The U.S. House passed legislation on Wednesday to award Congressional Gold Medals to law enforcement for protecting the U.S. Capitol and members of Congress during the Capitol riot on Jan. 6.
The resolution passed 413 to 12 on March 17 to commission three medals in total, Roll Call reported.
One would go to the U.S. Capitol Police (USCP), one would go to the DC Metropolitan Police Department, and a third will be displayed at the Smithsonian Institution with a list of all the other law enforcement agencies who helped protect the Capitol on Jan. 6.
Twelve Republican members of Congress voted against the resolution proposing the awards because of the way it was worded, The Washington Post reported.
“On January 6, 2021, a mob of insurrectionists forced its way into the U.S. Capitol building and congressional office buildings and engaged in acts of vandalism, looting, and violently attacked Capitol Police officers,” the resolution read.
All 12 lawmakers objected to the use of the word “insurrectionists” in the resolution, The Washington Post reported.
“The desecration of the U.S. Capitol, which is the temple of our American Democracy, and the violence targeting Congress are horrors that will forever stain our Nation’s history,” it also read.
U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) explained why he hadn’t supported the measure after the vote, The Washington Post reported.
“It’s just offensive that we literally logrolled recognition of the Capitol Police,” Gaetz told Roll Call. “We didn’t give it its own dignity. We had to combine it with these editorial comments about the Jan. 6 sequence of events, and then we had to logroll it with this exhibit at the Smithsonian, and that was a little much for me.”
U.S. Representative Andy Harris (R-Maryland) called the resolution a “politically charged publicity stunt,” The Washington Post reported.
“The men and women on the Thin Blue Line, including the brave men and women of the United States Capitol Police, should never be used as props for politically charged publicity stunts like this bill,” Harris said. “I truly commend the Capitol Police for their actions on January 6th, and am very grateful for their service in keeping us safe each day. But I cannot support partisan charged language found in this bill.”
U.S. Representative Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky) told Roll Call that he objected to the term “insurrection” and the implications that codifying that description of Jan. 6 could have on people who were being prosecuted for their actions at the Capitol riot.
“If we give weight to the word ‘insurrection’ that then that comes up in somebody’s prosecution, so that’s a concern of mine,” Massie explained. “Also calling this a temple is a little too sacrilegious for me. This is not a religion here. This is a government. We separate our religion from our government.”
The measure was supposed to be a companion bill to the Senate measure that awarded USCP Officer Eugene Goodman the honor for leading rioters away from the Senate chamber on Jan. 6, according to Roll Call.
The House and Senate versions will have to be reconciled before any medals can be awarded.
U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Maryland) sponsored the legislation in the Senate in February to award the medal to Officer Goodman, WUSA reported.
“But for Officer Goodman’s acts of courage, people would have died or been severely injured,” Van Hollen said when he introduced the bill titled the “Officer Eugene Goodman Congressional Gold Medal Act.”
Officer Goodman’s heroic actions became famous when a cell phone video surfaced that showed the moment that the officer pushed back against a group of rioters who had made their way inside the Capitol building.