The House passed legislation on Tuesday that would award the highest congressional honor to all members of law enforcement for their service during the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, with 21 Republicans voting against it.
The chamber previously passed a measure in March that would have bestowed the Congressional Gold Medal to the Capitol Police and the D.C. Police Department. But the measure ran into headwinds in the Senate, which had separately honored Officer Eugene Goodman of the Capitol Police, who gained public acclaim for his heroism on Jan. 6 protecting lawmakers and their staff during the insurrection led by former President Donald Trump’s supporters.
Proponents of the House measure have argued that the honor should not go just to one person given the collective contributions made by law enforcement on Jan. 6 when rioters violently stormed the Capitol as Congress was in the process of certifying President Joe Biden’s electoral victory.
The House approved the measure on a 406-21 vote, with all opposition coming from Republicans. Only 12 House Republicans voted against the March measure bestowing the Gold Medal, another sign of how GOP sentiment of the rioters has softened in the months since the mob overran the Capitol.
Several Republicans have subsequently downplayed the danger on display that day, and GOP senators recently blocked the creation of an independent panel to investigate the events of that day.
Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), who voted against the bill, said he opposed it because of its wording — specifically, sections calling the events of Jan. 6 an “insurrection” and the Capitol a “temple of democracy.”
“I think it was a mob, but I don’t think it was an insurrection,” he said.
To use the kind of language the bill did would have a “bearing on the case” of those facing federal prosecution, Massie added.
Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.) sounded a similar note, saying simply: “It’s all politics. It’s all garbage.”
And Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), another opponent of the Tuesday Gold Medal vote, said she voted no because of the proposal’s reference to the Capitol as a “temple.”
“I wouldn’t call it an insurrection,” Greene said of the attack on Congress.
Massachusetts Rep. Jim McGovern, one of last the House Democrats to leave the chamber as it was overrun on Jan. 6, expressed horror at the Republicans who voted against it.
“Its sick. But I mean, they have to live with themselves,” McGovern said. “It’s sad, pathetic.”
The Senate has introduced a bill matching the legislation passed by the House and is likely to pass it at some point, as well. The House-passed bill would also commend other federal officers who assisted the response to the insurrection.
Lawmakers have tried to walk a fine line in the wake of the insurrection, praising the actions of officers and other responders on the front line while also sharply criticizing some law enforcement leaders — several of whom have since stepped down — for their handling of the situation.
Nicholas Wu, Sarah Ferris and Melanie Zanona contributed to this report.