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Biden signs bill to award Congressional Gold Medals to police who defended Capitol on Jan. 6

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President Biden on Thursday signed into law a bill to award four Congressional Gold Medals — the highest civilian honor given by Congress — to United States Capitol Police and other law enforcement personnel who protected the U.S. Capitol during the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection.

“America owes you a debt we can never fully repay,” Biden said at a signing ceremony in the White House Rose Garden. “On behalf of a grateful nation, thank you, thank you, thank you for protecting our Capitol and, maybe more importantly, for protecting our Constitution.”

Joe Biden with lawmakers and members of law enforcement and their families
President Biden, flanked by lawmakers and members of law enforcement and their families, signs legislation Thursday to honor police officers and others who protected the Capitol on Jan. 6. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Biden described the violent breach of the Capitol by a pro-Trump mob seeking to prevent Congress from certifying the results of the 2020 election as “fundamentally un-American,” and insisted that “the tragedy of that day deserves the truth above all else.”

“We can’t allow the heroism of these officers to be forgotten,” he said.

Protesters gather
The pro-Trump insurrection on Jan. 6. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The bill, H.R. 3325, was introduced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in May. It was passed in the House in June in a 406-21 vote, with 21 Republicans — including Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Lauren Boebert of Colorado — voting against the measure.

Earlier this week, the Senate voted unanimously to approve the legislation to award the medals, which will be displayed at the headquarters of the Capitol Police, the Metropolitan Police, the Smithsonian and the U.S. Capitol. The bill was delivered to the president on Wednesday.

More than 140 police officers suffered injuries during the attack. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died of a stroke after clashing with a violent mob of Trump supporters.

The new law also recognizes Capitol Police Officer William Evans, who was killed in the line of duty when he was struck by a vehicle outside the Capitol on April 2, as well as officers who died by suicide in the wake of Jan. 6.

Aquilino Gonell, Michael Fanone, Harry Dunn and Daniel Hodges
Front row, from left: Officers Aquilino Gonell, Michael Fanone and Harry Dunn listen while Officer Daniel Hodges testifies during a Senate hearing on July 27 investigating the Jan. 6 attack. (Brendan Smialowski/Pool via Reuters)

The bill signing comes on the same week that the Metropolitan Police Department announced that two more officers who were at the Capitol on Jan. 6 died by suicide, bringing the total number to four.

“For anyone out there facing trauma, for anyone still struggling, please know there is help available,” Biden said at Thursday’s signing ceremony.

Last week, four police officers who defended the Capitol on Jan. 6 testified at the first public hearing of the select committee investigating the insurrection — each giving chilling accounts of the abuse and trauma they suffered.

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