Twelve members of Congress — including Maryland’s Rep. Andrew P. Harris (R) — voted against a resolution to award Congressional Gold Medals to police officers who protected the U.S. Capitol from a deadly, insurrectionist mob on Jan. 6.
The measure directs the Speaker of the House and the President pro tempore of the Senate to award Congressional Gold Medals to the U.S. Capitol Police, the D.C. Police and to the Smithsonian Institution, whose officers responded to the violent assault, which occurred during the certification of the 2020 presidential election.
The resolution passed 413-12.
Democrats supported it unanimously. Republicans backed it 194-12.
“It’s an unfortunate reality that we’ve reached the point in our politics that even something that most people would say, ‘yes, absolutely we should do this,’ is dismissed by some as just being political theater,” said Todd Eberly, a political science professor at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
Five people died in the attack on the building, including Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick. Two other officers later died by suicide.
Among the lawmakers voting against the resolution were a number who regularly make headlines outside their districts, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, Rep. Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas and Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida.
Many told reporters they objected to the resolution’s text, which made reference to “a mob of insurrectionists.”
Eberly noted that the vast majority of Republicans lawmakers found no problem with the bill’s goals or text.
“It’s well outside the mainstream of the party,” he added. “I’m not sure why somebody would want to be part of that group.”
Harris’ website had no reference to his vote against the resolution on Thursday evening.
Former state Del. Heather Mizeur, one of several Democrats who have already announced they are running for Harris’ seat in 2022, issued a statement condemning his vote.
“By any measure, this is an extremist position that disgraces our district,” she wrote. “Many of those Capitol Police officers are Marylanders. All of them are heroes. Harris is picking sides here, and he has chosen to stand with a violent mob of insurrectionists over those on the front lines who defended his own life that day.”
Harris turned down media requests for comment, but his staff issued a brief statement to select media organizations.
In it, he said police officers “should never be used as props for politically charged publicity stunts like this bill.”
He accused Democrats of using “partisan charged language.”
Harris staffers Walter Smoloski and Brian Shuy refused to make the statement available to Maryland Matters.
“Dr. Harris would like you to ‘Make that question 103,’” Smoloski wrote in an email, an apparent reference to a report on this site last year, titled “99 Questions for Rep. Andy Harris, MD.”
The report spotlighted the congressman’s historic unwillingness to speak to the media.
In his statement to other news organizations, which was obtained by Maryland Matters, 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.”