The legislation provides for a third gold medal to be given to the Smithsonian to be displayed and for research purposes.
The final vote was 413-12 to award the law enforcement agencies for what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has previously called “a moment of extraordinary heroism.”
Twelve Republicans voted against the bipartisan legislation: Louie Gohmert of Texas, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Andy Biggs of Arizona, who chairs the Freedom Caucus, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Andy Harris of Maryland, Lance Gooden of Texas, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Michael Cloud of Texas, Andrew Clyde of Georgia, Bob Good of Virginia, Greg Steube of Florida and John Rose of Tennessee.
The path forward for Gohmert’s version of the Congressional Gold Medal bill was not going to gain momentum, given Democrats’ control of Congress, but it speaks to how calling the breach of the Capitol an insurrection is still viewed as political to certain members of Congress.
Gaetz told reporters that he had voted against the legislation because “it’s just offensive that we literally 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, and then we had to log-roll it with this exhibit at the Smithsonian, and I thought that was a little much for me.”
“I have a problem with the term ‘insurrection,’ ” Massie told reporters. “It could have implications for somebody’s prosecution later. That if we give weight to the word ‘insurrection,’ that then that comes up in somebody’s prosecution.”
Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney of Wyoming admonished her colleagues for supporting alternative legislation to the bipartisan bill that passed on the floor, framing Gohmert’s proposed measure as “outrageous.”
“What happened on January 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,” Cheney told CNN.
Speaking about the significance of the medals, Pelosi said on the floor Tuesday, “January 6 was 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.”
The vote had been previously twice stalled by members of the House Freedom Caucus who have used various procedural moves to delay it, in part because of their opposition to the bill’s language and more broadly as the latest example of members of the Republican Party trying to delay floor procedure.