A dozen Republican lawmakers have sparked fury after they voted against a resolution to award Congressional Gold Medals to law enforcement officials who protected the Capitol during the insurrection on 6 January.
The legislation, which passed in a bipartisan vote of 413 to 12 on Wednesday, aimed to honour officers of the US Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department and the Smithsonian Institution with the highest expression of national appreciation.
Twelve GOP lawmakers voted against the bill, including controversial representatives Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz, with many citing “partisan” language included in the bill such as the term “insurrection” as the reasoning for their objection.
The legislation reads: “On 6 January, 2021, a mob of insurrectionists forced its way into the US Capitol building and congressional office buildings and engaged in acts of vandalism, looting, and violently attacked Capitol Police officers.”
Ms Greene and Mr Gaetz voted against the bill alongside Louie Gohmert of Texas, Andy Biggs of Arizona, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Andy Harris of Maryland, Lance Gooden of Texas, Michael Cloud of Texas, Andrew Clyde of Georgia, Bob Good of Virginia, Greg Steube of Florida and John Rose of Tennessee.
Mr Gaetz said it was “offensive” that the bill had “log-rolled recognition of the Capitol Police”. “We didn’t give it its own dignity, we had to combine it with editorial comments about the January 6 sequence of events”, he said according to CNN.
Mr Massie told reporters that he had "a problem with the term ‘insurrection,’” used in the bill, saying "it could have implications for somebody’s prosecution later,” the broadcaster reported. “If we give weight to the word ‘insurrection,’ that then that comes up in somebody’s prosecution,” he added.
The Kentucky representative also reportedly disagreed with the use of the word “temple” included in the bill to describe the Capitol, saying it was “a little too sacrilegious for me.”
Mr Harris told The Washington Post that he “truly commends” the Capitol Police for their action on the day, but said that he could not support the “partisan charged language” in the bill, calling it a “politically charged publicity stunt.”
In retaliation to the bill, Mr Gohmert began circulating a competing resolution to award congressional gold medals to the Capitol Police which made no mention of the 6 January attack, Politico first reported.
The competing resolution makes no direct mention of the circumstances surrounding the deaths of three officers who died during and immediately following the traumatic day, instead saying they “passed in January 2021.”
The twelve lawmakers quickly faced backlash for their decision to oppose the bill on social media with critics calling the move “disgraceful” and “shameful.”
Democratic House Majority Leader Steny H Hoyer also hit out at the Republicans who voted against the bill, saying: “It is deeply unfortunate that a number of House Republicans opposed this action as they attempt to erase the events of January 6 and deny the responsibility of a far-right, insurrectionist mob incited by former President Trump.”
He added: “Such disrespect for the heroes who courageously tried to protect the American people’s Capitol is disgusting.”
House speaker Nancy Pelosi described the 6 January on Tuesday as a “day of horror and heartbreak” adding: "It was also a moment of extraordinary heroism. That day the United States Capitol Police force put themselves between us and the violence.
“Today, united in grief and gratitude, the House is honoring these heroes, as we pass legislation to bestow upon them the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor this Congress can give.”
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