Despite minimal opposition, the House of Representatives passed a bill on Wednesday (March 17) to award Congressional Gold Medals to the Capitol Police force and Metropolitan Police Department for their efforts to defend the Capitol against rioters on Jan. 6. A third gold medal will also be awarded to the Smithsonian for display and research purposes.
The bipartisan bill was overwhelmingly passed, with 413 House members voting to approve it. Only 12 representatives voted against the legislation, all of whom were Republican. Several conservatives told reporters that they took issue with the word “insurrection” being used to describe Trump supporters’ attack on the Capitol.
Earlier on Wednesday, Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert even proposed his own alternative legislation that omitted the term. Speaking with reporters, he called the House bill that ultimately passed “offensive.”
“It’s just offensive that we literally log-rolled recognition of the Capitol Police,” he said. “We didn’t give it its own dignity. We had to combine it with editorial comments about the Jan. 6 sequence of events and then we had to log-roll it with this exhibit at the Smithsonian, and I thought that was a little much for me.”
Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie added, “I have a problem with the term ‘insurrection.’”
“It could have implications for somebody’s prosecution later,” he added. “That if we give weight to the word ‘insurrection,’ that then that comes up in somebody’s prosecution.”
Meanwhile, Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney criticized her conservative colleagues for not supporting the bill.
“What happened on Jan. 6 was an attack on the Capitol. The officers who defended us, both Capitol Police, the Metropolitan police, all the law enforcement officers who defended us put their lives on the line — some lost their lives — and there should be no question that we’re awarding people a gold medal for their actions on that day,” she told CNN.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also urged support of the bill, specifically naming officer Brian Sicknick, who died of injuries sustained in the riot, on the House floor Tuesday (March 16).
“Jan. 6 was a day of horror and heartbreak,” she said. “It was also a moment of extraordinary heroism. That day the United States Capitol Police force put themselves between us and the violence.”
Pelosi also named officer Eugene Goodman, who intentionally diverted rioters away from the Senate chamber during the attack.
CNN notes that the legislation passed by the House is different than the measure passed in the Senate last month. The Senate’s legislation specifically awarded the gold medal to Goodman, while the House voted to award medals to the entire Capitol Police force and Metropolitan Police Department. The two bills will now be reconciled by a House Democratic leadership aide.