The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill to award Congressional Gold Medals to the U.S. Capitol Police and the D.C. Metro Police Department for their actions during the January 6 Capitol riots.
But first, it will need to be reconciled with a Senate version of the bill that would award a medal to Officer Eugene Goodman for his bravery.
According to the House historian, awarding Congressional Gold Medals is the highest honor that Congress can bestow on an individual or institution. The tradition began with awarding medals to patriots who served in the American Revolution.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sponsored the bill to award three Congressional Gold Medals: one to the Capitol Police, another to the D.C. Metro Police and a third to the Smithsonian Institution that will display a plaque that honors all of the law enforcement agencies that were involved in protecting the Capitol on January 6.
The bill wasn’t unanimously supported. Republicans who didn’t co-sponsor the bill cited its use of the language “insurrection,” “temple,” as well as its political use as reasons.
Florida House Republican Matt Gaetz told Roll Call, “It’s just offensive that we literally logrolled recognition of the Capitol Police. We didn’t give it its own dignity. We had to combine it with these editorial comments about the January 6 sequence of events, and then we had to logroll it with this exhibit at the Smithsonian, and that was a little much for me.”
Texas rep. Chip Roy found fault with the phrase calling the Capitol “the temple of our democracy,” saying “it’s neither a temple nor a democracy.”
Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie did not co-sponsor the bill for similar reasons. He said, “calling this a temple is a little too sacrilegious for me. This is not a religion here. This is a government. We separate our religion from our government.”
He also disagreed with the use of the word “insurrection” to describe the riots, saying that it gives weight to the prosecution against individuals involved in the riot that day.
“If we give weight to the word ‘insurrection’ that then that comes up in somebody’s prosecution, so that’s a concern of mine,” he said.
The bill also coincides with a Senate bill to award Officer Eugene Goodman a medal for his brave actions in leading protestors away from the Senate chamber. Senator Van Hollen introduced the bill.
The bill states, “Officer Goodman’s actions exemplify the heroism of the many men and women who risked their lives to defend the Capitol on January 6, 2021.”
While Pelosi’s bill awards medals to institutions rather than individuals, it does name Goodman and praise him for his “courage.”
A spokesperson for Pelosi said she wanted to give recognition to all officers who defended the capitol that day.
It’s not clear how the two bills will be reconciled, but Senator Van Hollen would like to see both signed. He told CQ Roll Call that he’d like to see both measures passed into law, but that Goodman deserved his own medal for “playing a particularly special role in defending the Senate.”