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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

12 Republicans Vote Against Giving Congressional Medal To Capitol Police. Here’s Why.

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The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to award a Congressional Gold Medal to the U.S. Capitol Police for their actions during the Jan. 6 attack on Congress, but a dozen Republicans broke with the rest of their caucus and opposed the effort, disputing how the bill framed the riots.

Key Facts

The bill — which passed 413-12 — referred to Jan. 6 rioters as a “mob of insurrectionists,”  and it applauded the “patriotism and the commitment” of officers Brian Sicknick (who died following the riot), Howard Liebengood (who died by suicide days later) and Eugene Goodman (who is credited with fending off and diverting a mob of rioters).

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) plans to introduce a competing resolution that would also award a Gold Medal to the Capitol Police, but he claimed in a statement the existing bill “seeks to drive a narrative that isn’t substantiated by known facts,” though he didn’t specify which parts of the bill he dislikes or believes are unsubstantiated.

Similarly, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) told reporters the bill included “editorial comments,” Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) said in a statement the bill contained “partisan charged language,” and Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) disputed its use of the word “insurrectionists” and description of the Capitol as a “temple of our American Democracy.”

Forbes has reached out to the other eight House Republicans who voted no: Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), Andy Biggs (Ariz.), Lance Gooden (Texas), Andrew Clyde (Ga.), Michael Cloud, Greg Steube (Fla.), John Rose (Tenn.) and Bob Good (Va.).

Crucial Quote

“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,” Harris told Forbes in a statement.


Gohmert’s alternative bill omits all references to the riots in January, instead offering more general praise for the Capitol Police’s “dedication” and “sacrifice,” according to a draft obtained by Politico. The bill mourns the deaths of Sicknick and Liebengood but only says they “passed in January 2021,” and it doesn’t mention Goodman at all. 

What To Watch For

The Senate needs to approve the bill next. It’s likely to pass in the upper chamber, considering its broad support in the House.

Key Background

In the months following the Jan. 6 attack, a handful of high-profile Republicans have questioned the ideological leanings of the rioters and severity of the violence. Greene has insisted the rioters were not supporters of former President Donald Trump, and Gaetz has wondered whether left-wing agitators were behind the attack, even though the vast majority of those arrested were Trump supporters. Meanwhile, others have downplayed the riots’ danger: Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) said last week he didn’t fear for his safety on Jan. 6 because most rioters “love this country.”

Further Reading

House approves awarding Congressional Gold Medal to Capitol Police for Jan. 6 response (Politico)

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