President Biden has signed a bill honouring the Washington DC police who fought off 6 January’s pro-Trump attack on the Capitol, telling a crowd at the White House that “we can’t allow history to be re-written”.
“It wasn’t dissent. It wasn’t debate. It wasn’t debate. It was insurrection,” the president said on Thursday of the riot. “It was fundamentally un-American, an existential threat, a test of whether our democracy could survive.”
The bill, HR 3325, which passed the Senate unanimously but was opposed by 21 Republicans in the House, awards four congressional gold medals to members of the US Capitol Police and DC Metropolitan Police Department who kept the crowd of angry MAGA loyalists from reaching senior members of the government taking shelter inside the Capitol.
“Our democracy did survive,” Mr Biden added. “Truth defeated lies. We did overcome. That’s because of the women and men of the US capitol police, Washington DC Metropolitan Police Department, and other law enforcement officials we honour today.”
The law marks the highest honour yet for the officers stationed at the Capitol that day, after various Congress members have recognised them, and officer Eugene Goodman, hailed as one of the heroes of the riot, escorted vice-president Kamala Harris at the inauguration. Five people, including Capitol officer Brian Sicknick, were killed at the riots, and four officers present that day have died by suicide since. More than 100 other police were injured during the attack, which attempted to disrupt the certification of the 2020 presidential election results in Congress.
Though Congress has reached an increasingly rare bipartisan consensus that the officers who served deserve commendation, the broader legacy of 6 January remains contested.
Though Republicans in Congress rejected a bipartisan, 9/11-commission-style investigation into the riot in June, a House committee is continuing its efforts to understand what happened that day, including by calling in DC police officers to testify.
That effort could escalate in the coming days, as the committee mulls whether to call (or force) testimony top Republicans like minority leader Kevin McCarthy and Jim Jordan, who’ve said they were in contract with former president Trump during the course of the riot.
The biggest fight of all would be if House investigators try to subpoena Mr Trump, which could touch off a lengthy legal fight between Congress and the former president.Elsewhere, the mirage of consequential voter fraud in the 2020 election, debunked over and over again by experts, retains its allure.
Republicans in the swing state of Arizona are still auditing 2020 election results, even though the state already certified its returns, and Mr Trump has continued to suggest the 2020 election was rigged as he plots his political comeback and hosts rallies around the country.