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House medal vote draws more media attention

Protesters attempt to break through police barricades during the Jan. 6 protests and assault on the U.S. Capitol. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sponsored one of several bills for gold medals honoring protection forces.

Protestors image courtesy of Crosscut.com.

A routine vote on congressional gold medal legislation doesn’t often attract much attention from the general news media, but action taken March 17 in the House of Representatives drew widespread news attention after a small number of members of Congress chose to not vote for the legislation.

The legislation seeks three individual congressional gold medals for U.S. Capitol Police and other security forces that protected the facility and members of Congress during the Jan. 6 assault by protesters. The measure passed the House March 17, but not without the staunch objections of a small number of Republicans who cast “No” votes because of the bill’s language.

There were 412 yes votes, five no votes and five votes not cast for H.R. 1085, introduced Feb. 18 by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. Voting yes were 219 Democrats and 194 Republicans, suggesting that overall, the measure had strong bipartisan support from most members of the House.

The vote on H.R. 1085 received widespread news coverage in general circulation publications and other news outlets.

The GOP legislators who did not vote for the measure objected to bill language that referred to the protesters, many of them supporters of former President Trump, as “insurrectionists.”

Objections were also raised over references to the Capitol as a “temple” of American democracy.

Rep. Andy Harris of Maryland issued a statement after the roll call vote, referring to H.R. 1085 as a “politically charged publicity stunt.”

Federal prosecutors have already filed multiple felony charges against more than 400 protesters that stormed the Capitol and breached the security of the facility.

The three gold medals sought under H.R. 1085 are in addition to two individual medals proposed under two separate bills that would recognize Capitol Police officers Eugene Goodman (H.R. 305), and Brian Sicknick (H.R. 622).

Goodman directed protesters away from congressional chambers.

Sicknick died from injuries he sustained during the Capitol assault.

H.R. 1085 seeks:
➤ One gold medal to be given to the United States Capitol Police, so that the medal may be displayed at the headquarters of the United States Capitol Police and made available for research, as appropriate.
➤ One gold medal to be given to the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia, so that the medal may be displayed at the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Department and made available for research, as appropriate.
➤ One gold medal to be given to the Smithsonian Institution, where it would be available for display as appropriate and available for research. The Smithsonian Institution would be directed to display the medal with a plaque listing the other law enforcement agencies that participated in protecting the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

On March 17, after passage by the House via electronic vote, H.R. 1085 was forwarded to the Senate, read twice and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs for further consideration.

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