3 Texas Republicans vote against awarding Congressional Gold Medals to police who protected Capitol during insurrection

ByAbby Livingston, The Texas Tribune KTRK logo
Thursday, March 18, 2021
3 TX Reps. vote against Congressional Gold Medals for Capitol officers
House Resolution 1085 was passed 413 to 12 by the U.S. House after forty minutes of debate. It was received by the U.S. Senate and referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, an

Three Texas Congressmen voted on Wednesday against a resolution honoring the U.S. Capitol Police for its efforts to protect members of both chambers amid a violent insurrection on Jan. 6.

Republican U.S. Reps. Michael Cloud of Victoria, Louie Gohmert of Tyler and Lance Gooden of Terrell voted against a resolution that awarded Congressional Gold Medals - the legislative chamber's "highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions" - to members of the Capitol police force. The bipartisan resolution passed 413-12.

A Politico report from earlier Wednesday stated that Congressional Trump allies tried "to scrub references to the insurrection" from the resolution. Prior to the vote, Gohmert had circulated a watered-down resolution that did not mention the attack and sought to distance the deaths of Officers Brian Sicknick and Jeffrey Smith from the date of Jan. 6 because they both passed in the following days. Authorities recently charged two alleged rioters for assaulting Sicknick with a chemical spray, but it remains unknown if that exposure caused his death. Smith died by suicide several days later.

Gohmert released a statement prior to the vote.

"HR 1085 does not honor anyone, but rather seeks to drive a narrative that isn't substantiated by known facts," he said. "We absolutely do want to show our gratitude and respect for the U.S. Capitol Police, so I removed the speaker's false and politicized narrative in order to arrive at legislation that truly honors those who selflessly serve us in Congress."

Cloud said he also disagreed with the language used in the bill.

"I have always stood by and supported our brave law enforcement and still do but this bill was not truly about that despite its name," he said in a statement. "Instead of simply being about honoring the Capitol Police who bravely protected the Capitol on January 6th, Speaker Pelosi included damaging language that unnecessarily weighs down the bill. The text refers to the Capitol as the temple of democracy - simply put, it's not a temple and Congress should not refer to it as one. The federal government is not a god. "

Gooden did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Republican U.S. Reps. Jodey Arrington of Lubbock and Kevin Brady of the Woodlands did not vote, but 30 other House members from Texas, including Democrats and Republicans, backed the resolution.

The resolution designating the honor was sponsored by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who was specifically targeted by the attackers and is third in the line of the presidential succession.

The legislation stated that "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."

"The sacrifice of heroes including Capitol Police Officers Brian Sicknick and Howard Liebengood, Metropolitan Police Department Officer Jeffrey Smith, and those who sustained injuries, and the courage of Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman exemplify the patriotism and the commitment of Capitol Police officers, and those of other law enforcement agencies, to risk their lives in service of our country," the speaker wrote.

The events of that day, in which a mob attacked the legislative branch in an unsuccessful attempt to block the certification of the 2020 election results, are seared into the minds of many members and resulted in former President Donald Trump's second impeachment for his role inciting the mob. But in recent weeks, Trump's most ardent Congressional supporters have sought to downplay the severity of the riot.

Several Texas members braced themselves that day for hand-to-hand street combat but were able to escape to safety thanks to the police and successful barricades.

"All I had was a baseball bat to protect myself and my staff," U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, an Austin Republican who backed Wednesday's resolution recalled to the Tribune last month. "We heard them trying to break down the door and then we heard the Capitol police show up. There was a bloody exchange and then they left."

RELATED: Congressman says he was prepared to use a baseball bat to protect staff

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