Senator Roy Blunt said he hoped a message would be sent to law enforcement “that we are united in our appreciation for all that you do to keep us safe.”
Legislation awarding the highest honor of Congress to all members of law enforcement officials who served to protect the Capitol during the January 6 attack is headed to the White House for President Joe Biden’s signature.
The Senate passed the House-approved bill, which will award four Congressional gold medals, including one to the U.S. Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department, by unanimous consent Tuesday. Both houses had previously passed their own resolutions to award awards after Jan.6, but the houses’ initial proposals did not line up.
A third medal will be displayed within the Smithsonian Institution complex, with a plaque listing all the law enforcement agencies that protected and defended the Capitol. A fourth medal will be awarded to the Architect of the Capitol, “for display in a prominent place in the United States Capitol.”
“Those medals, when little kids come by and see them at the Smithsonian, their parents will be able to tell them this happened,” Senate Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) Said on the floor before the bill. law. “This attack happened, and there were brave police and staff and others in this building who rose up that day and protected our democracy, and we will be eternally grateful to them.”
Senator Roy Blunt, the top Republican on the Rules Committee, hoped expedited Senate approval would indicate to officials that the measure was uncontroversial. Earlier, an effort to establish a bipartisan commission to investigate the attack was blocked when Republican senators and 21 House Republicans voted against awarding the medals in June.
“I hope that by passing this congressional gold medal bill by unanimous consent, we send a clear message to law enforcement officials that we are united in our appreciation for all that they do to keep us safe,” said the Republican of Missouri in a speech in the room.
“I urge my colleagues to come together not only to support the unanimous passage of this bill, but also to be quick to speak out about our deep appreciation for those who serve in such a special way as we try to do our work here every day. ”. Blunt added.
The Senate action follows heartbreaking and emotional testimony last week from four police officers, who faced brutal violence and verbal abuse from attackers while defending the Capitol complex.
The legislation says it is intended to recognize and honor “the sacrifices of fallen officers and their families, and the contributions of other law enforcement agencies that answered the call of duty on January 6, 2021.”
The death of two Metropolitan Police officers by suicide was announced by the department on Monday. Officer Gunther Hashida of the Emergency Response Team was found dead on July 29 and Officer Kyle DeFreytag was found dead on July 10, according to the department. Both responded to the attack on the Capitol on January 6.
The deaths mark four known suicides to law enforcement officers who responded to the Capitol during the attack. MPD Officer Jeffrey Smith and Capitol Police Officer Howard Liebengood also responded to the uprising and later died by suicide.
The US National Suicide Prevention Hotline is available at 800-273-TALK (8255) any time of the day or night or chat online. The Crisis Text Message Line provides free confidential assistance 24 hours a day, 7 days a week when you dial 741741.