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Why 12 GOP reps opposed Congressional Gold Medals for Capitol police

When some congressional Republicans talk up their support for law enforcement, it's worth reading the fine print.
Image: Representative Louie Gohmert
Representative Louie Gohmert, R-TX, holds a protective mask while departing the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 4, 2021.Stefani Reynolds / Bloomberg via Getty Images file

Ten weeks after the deadly insurrectionist attack on the U.S. Capitol, the Democratic-led House finally passed a measure to honor the law-enforcement officials who protected the institution and those who work there. But while this may have seemed like an obvious thing to do, it proved to be a bit more difficult than it should've been. Roll Call reported late yesterday:

The House on Wednesday passed a bill to award Congressional Gold Medals to the U.S. Capitol Police and Washington's Metropolitan Police Department for protecting the Capitol and members of Congress during the Jan. 6 insurrection.... The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest honor Congress can bestow on an individual or institution.

The House resolution will now have to be reconciled with a slightly different Senate-passed measure before final passage.

But as the process unfolds, what's striking is the fact that some House Republicans actually opposed the resolution, even though they knew it would pass anyway.

Let's back up for a minute. The Congressional Gold Medal measure was supposed to be approved early last week, but some members of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus forced a delay on this and several other seemingly uncontroversial bills. At the time, it appeared that several conservative GOP lawmakers were simply wasting time for the sake of wasting time.

What was less clear was that some Republicans actually opposed the resolution honoring the law-enforcement officials that protected the Capitol.

Politico reported yesterday that some of Donald Trump's congressional allies tried to "scrub references to the insurrection" from the resolution that honored police officers who defended lawmakers during an insurrectionist attack. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), in particular, circulated an alternative resolution that sought to downplay the events of Jan. 6 and the sacrifices of Officers Brian Sicknick and Jeffrey Smith.

Politico's report went on to note that this represented "the latest effort by some of Trump's most hardcore backers to rewrite history," adding, "Call this what it is: totally bonkers."

Gohmert and his allies, not surprisingly, failed, and the actual Congressional Gold Medal resolution passed 413 to 12. But the fact that 12 elected lawmakers -- all Republicans -- voted against the measure was nevertheless extraordinary. For the record, this is the list of the resolution's dozen GOP opponents:

  • Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.)
  • Michael Cloud (R-Texas)
  • Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.)
  • Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.)
  • Louie Gohmert (R-Texas)
  • Bob Good (R-Va.)
  • Lance Gooden (R-Texas)
  • Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.)
  • Andy Harris (R-Md.)
  • Thomas Massie (R-Ky.)
  • John Rose (R-Tenn.)
  • Gregory Steube (R-Fla.)

The conventional wisdom suggests that Republicans and law enforcement are natural allies. Indeed, a recent analysis found that police officers made considerably more campaign contributions than usual in 2020, and most of the donations went to GOP officials and candidates.

For four years, Donald Trump was eager to exploit these perceptions, routinely posturing about "law and order" and being "tough on crime." But just below the surface, Trump slammed law enforcement in ways few American presidents ever have.

And now some of his congressional allies are showing that their support for law enforcement comes with some fine print, too.