On Wednesday, the House passed legislation that would award the Congressional Gold Medal to officers of the US Capitol Police, Metropolitan Police Department, and other law enforcement agencies that helped protect lawmakers from pro-Trump insurrectionists during the January 6 storming of the Capitol. But despite overwhelming bipartisan support, the final vote was 413-12, with all 12 nay votes coming from Republicans.
Republicans have long lauded themselves as the party of so-called law and order: in response to Black Lives Matter’s calls for extensive police reform, conservatives have anointed themselves as the sole defenders of cops everywhere, declaring “Blue Lives Matter!” on Twitter posts and in campaign stump speeches.
So why didn’t a dozen Republicans jump at the opportunity to lavish law enforcement with accolades? Because the bill was too politically charged, apparently.
From CNN (emphasis ours):
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.
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.”
And from the Washington Post:
In a tweet Wednesday evening, Good, a first-term lawmaker representing a swath of central Virginia, said the resolution was “politically convenient” for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Harris, the only Republican House member in the Maryland delegation, released a statement calling the measure a “politically charged publicity stunt.”
“The men and women on the thin blue line, including the brave men and women of the United States Capitol Police, should never be used as props for politically charged publicity stunts like this bill,” Harris said. “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.”
This logic might make sense if the bill read “hundreds of MAGA chuds stormed the Capitol complex,” but it doesn’t. The bill simply states, “On January 6, 2021, a mob of insurrectionists forced its way into the U.S. Capitol building and congressional office buildings and engaged in acts of vandalism, looting, and violently attacked Capitol Police officers.”
An insurrection is a violent uprising against a government or authority figure. An insurrectionist is someone who is engaged in an insurrection. Anyone who watched 30 seconds of footage from the January 6 storming of the Capitol can determine that the definition fits. The event left hundreds injured and five people (four rioters, one officer) dead; two police officers who responded to the attack also killed themselves in the days that followed.
How can the officers who helped members of Congress, reporters, visitors, and others milling around the Capitol grounds that day be honored without a sincere acknowledgment of what happened that day?
They can’t, but that didn’t stop Rep. Gohmert from introducing a competing resolution that omitted reference to the insurrection entirely.
Politico reports that Gohmert’s resolution also “appear[ed] to downplay the sacrifice of Officers Brian Sicknick and Jeffrey Smith, merely stating that they ‘passed in January 2021.’” Sicknick was killed during the Capitol attack, and Smith was one of the officers who died by suicide afterward. This is a clear bastardization of the facts and cheapens the ways in which those officers died. But the most fringe elements of the Republican party are calling Gohmert’s bill “pro-police.”
At least these politicians can stop acting like they actually give a shit about “Blue Lives.”