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Twenty-one Republicans vote against awarding medals to police who defended Capitol during riot

Congressional Gold Medal vote for 6 January police officers overwhelmingly passes House even as 21 Republicans vote ‘no’

Maroosha Muzaffar
Wednesday 16 June 2021 07:58 BST
FILE PHOTO. Twenty-one House Republicans have voted against awarding Congressional Gold Medals to police officers who defended the Capitol Building during 6 January riots in Washington D.C.
FILE PHOTO. Twenty-one House Republicans have voted against awarding Congressional Gold Medals to police officers who defended the Capitol Building during 6 January riots in Washington D.C. (REUTERS)

Twenty-one House Republicans voted against awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to police officers who defended the Capitol during the 6 January riots.

On Tuesday, the House passed legislation to award one of the highest civilian honours to police officers who responded during the insurrection by supporters of former president Donald Trump.

The legislation received massive bipartisan support from 406 lawmakers. However, 21 Republicans voted “no”.

Even that relatively small number of votes against was immediately condemned by the Republican politicians’ colleagues.

Democrat Bobby Scott called the “no” votes “a sad commentary on the @HouseGOP,” while Republican Adam Kinzinger tweeted: “How you can vote no to this is beyond me.”

Mr Kinzinger added: “Then again, denying an insurrection is as well.  To the brave Capitol (and DC metro PD) thank you.  To the 21:  they will continue to defend your right to vote no anyway.”

Earlier in March, the House had passed a version of this bill to award the Congressional Gold Medal to members of the law enforcement agencies that helped defend the Capitol. At that time, 12 Republicans had voted against the legislation.

Virginia Democrat Gerald E. Connolly called the latest vote “a new low for this crowd.” In an interview with CNN, he said: “They voted to overturn an election. But in their vote today, they kind of sealed the deal of basically affiliating with the mob.”

Mr Connolly added: “They now are part of the insurrectionist mob. They brought enormous disrepute and dishonour on themselves in not honouring the brave men and women who defended the Capitol of the United States — everybody in it, but also defending the symbol of democracy in the world, not just here in the United States.”

Earlier, the House and Senate had been in a standoff for about three months over a debate about whether the Congressional award should be given to all law enforcement agents who responded on 6 January or to one Capitol police officer Eugene Goodman who had single-handedly diverted an angry mob away from the Senate chamber.

The Senate had already unanimously decided to bestow the award exclusively to Goodman. Finally, both the House and the Senate modified the legislation and decided to go for four gold medals. One gold medal will go to the Capitol Police, one for the DC police, another for the Smithsonian Institution and another is to be displayed inside the Capitol building in a “prominent location” along with a plaque that names all law enforcement agencies who helped protect the building from the rioters.

The Hill reported that 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 6 January.

Nancy Pelosi said on the House floor that 6 January 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.” Ms Pelosi was the lead sponsor of the bill.

Several House Republicans have sought to downplay the 6 January violence in the months since.

The Republicans who voted against the bill were Thomas Massie (Ky.), 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.).

Thomas Massie, defending his “no” vote said: “I think if we call that an insurrection, it could have a bearing on their case that I don’t think would be good. 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.”

Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia told the media that she also objected to the use of the word “insurrection” in the bill. She said: “I wouldn’t call it an insurrection.”

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