Jeffries calls on Johnson to honor police who defended Capitol on Jan. 6

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) is calling on Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) to honor the law enforcement officers who defended Congress during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, pressing the Speaker to dedicate a spot in the building for a commemorative plaque.

Congress, in March of 2022, passed a law requiring the placement of such a memorial by March of 2023. More than a year after that deadline, no plaque has been unveiled, and Jeffries is using the arrival of Police Week, an annual affair honoring the nation’s law enforcement officers, to urge Johnson to make good on the legal provision. 

“There is a law on the books that requires the Congress to designate a place of significance in the Capitol to honor the men and women of law enforcement — including the Capitol Police and the Metropolitan Police Department and many others who responded on that fateful day to put down a violent insurrection,” Jeffries said during a press briefing in the Capitol. 

“It’s time for House Republicans to honor the men and women of law enforcement who saved lives that day, including Democrats and Republicans, our staff members, and most importantly defending the Constitution.”

The Jan. 6 rampage has always sparked fierce disagreements between the parties over who bears the blame, tensions that have grown only more pronounced in the more than three years since. 

The attack was conducted by supporters of then-President Trump who had come to Washington at his urging to protest the 2020 election outcome and stormed the Capitol in a failed effort to block Congress from formalizing his defeat to now-President Biden.

While many Republicans initially condemned Trump’s role in the violent event, those criticisms quickly softened as it became clear that Republican base voters were sticking with him. And the reproach has virtually disappeared in recent months, as Trump clobbered his primary challengers to become the presumed GOP presidential nominee heading into November.

Some GOP lawmakers are now referring to the arrested rioters as political “hostages” who’ve been victimized by the “weaponized” Justice Department of the Biden administration. 

Democrats have rejected those accusations out of hand, accusing Republicans of rank hypocrisy for lauding law enforcement during Police Week while defending the Trump supporters who attacked police officers on Jan. 6. 

Rep. Pete Aguilar (Calif.), head of the House Democratic Caucus, said this week that it can be “difficult” to work with Republicans on police reforms “when they want to try to whitewash what happened [on Jan. 6], when they will stand with some law enforcement but they won’t stand with others.”

Trump is among the biggest voices defending the Jan. 6 rioters, regularly indicating he would pardon them if he’s elected to a second term in the White House. That aggressive defense has given GOP leaders little incentive to highlight the violence showered upon the law enforcers at the Capitol on Jan. 6, as a plaque unveiling would do. 

A Johnson spokesman said Thursday that “the Speaker’s office is working with [the Capitol architect] to get the plaque mounted.”

He didn’t say when. 

In the meantime, Democratic leaders are signaling they’re ready to press the Speaker until the memorial is in place. 

“The plaque is done,” Jeffries said. “It is my understanding that it is physically on the Capitol Complex, and it simply awaits a decision by the Republican majority to have an appropriate ceremony of recognition and have it placed in a location of honor here in the United States Congress.”

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