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Jan. 6 plaque is waiting on Republicans, Jeffries says

In ‘police week’ twist, Democrats put GOP on the spot over delayed tribute

A Capitol Police officer receives medical treatment after clashes with rioters on Jan. 6, 2021. A plaque to honor responding officers is finished, Democrats have said, but still waiting to be installed.
A Capitol Police officer receives medical treatment after clashes with rioters on Jan. 6, 2021. A plaque to honor responding officers is finished, Democrats have said, but still waiting to be installed. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

An overdue plaque honoring police who responded to the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, is finished and waiting to be installed, but Republicans are not taking action to publicly display it, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries said Thursday.

“It is ultimately a decision of the speaker and the House Republican majority. And there’s no indication as to why it has taken so long when the law requires memorial recognition, and it clearly is the right thing to do,” Jeffries said at a press conference, standing beside a poster replica of the plaque. 

“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,” Jeffries continued. 

His comments came during National Police Week, which Republicans have used to ding Democrats for what they claim are soft-on-crime policies that hurt law enforcement.

“It’s time for House Republicans to honor the men and women of law enforcement who saved lives that day,” Jeffries said.

Roll Call reported in January that Congress had missed the deadline it set for itself to put up the memorial.

The mandate was tucked into the fiscal 2022 omnibus bill, which was enacted in March 2022, and the plaque was supposed to be placed on the west front of the Capitol no later than a year after that. The law directs the House and Senate Legislative Branch Appropriations subcommittees, along with the House Administration and Senate Rules and Administration committees, to compile a list of officers who defended the Capitol that day to be included on the plaque. 

The poster replica displayed by Jeffries bears an image of the west side of the Capitol, with the words: “On behalf of a grateful Congress, this plaque honors the extraordinary individuals who bravely protected and defended this symbol of democracy on January 6, 2021. Their heroism will never be forgotten.” Beneath the inscription are the names of law enforcement agencies involved in protecting the Capitol that day.

“The Speaker’s office is working with AOC [the Architect of the Capitol] to get the plaque mounted,” a spokesperson for Speaker Mike Johnson said in an email Thursday, though the office did not respond to a follow-up question asking when the plaque would be put up.

Johnson’s office also didn’t respond when asked what has caused the delay, though some officers who were there that day have attributed it to politics. 

“The simple fact that this event occurred is so politically inconvenient to Republicans that they are willing to basically take a s— on their own Capitol Police Department and the other agencies that responded to assist them,” Michael Fanone, a former Metropolitan Police officer who was injured during the attack, told Roll Call earlier this year.

More than three years after the bloody attack — perpetrated by a mob of Trump supporters seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 election — House Republicans, first under the leadership of Speaker Kevin McCarthy and more recently with Johnson’s support, have sought to cast doubt on official accounts of that day.

Johnson has been a vocal supporter of Georgia Republican Rep. Barry Loudermilk, who leads the House Administration Oversight Subcommittee that is in the process of releasing all security footage from Jan. 6, despite concerns from Capitol Police. Loudermilk has been sharply critical of the work of the Jan. 6 Select Committee, which found Trump played an active role in inspiring the Capitol attack.

Jeffries’ comments came amid a smattering of questions from Democrats about the plaque in recent weeks.

Former House Administration Chair Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., sent a letter to Johnson earlier this month urging immediate action.

“It is deeply troubling that this memorial has not been installed, particularly considering the significance of honoring those who faced violence and assault while safeguarding our Capitol,” Lofgren wrote.

And House Legislative Branch Appropriations ranking member Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y., inquired about the delay at an April 16 hearing with the acting architect of the Capitol, who leads the agency tasked with obtaining the plaque.

“Our Capitol Building jurisdiction stands by, they’re ready to support putting that plaque up, once we’re directed to be able to do that,” acting Architect of the Capitol Joseph DiPietro said.

“So you haven’t been directed?” Espaillat asked.

“Correct,” DiPietro responded.

Even leaders of committees of jurisdiction have claimed ignorance when asked for updates recently. 

“I don’t have an update on that. I think that’s ultimately [the] House Office Building Commission,” House Administration Chairman Bryan Steil, R-Wis., said in April, referring to a body composed of the speaker and other House leaders.

House Legislative Branch Appropriations Chairman David Valadao, R-Calif., who just took the reins of the subpanel from Nevada Republican Mark Amodei last month, said recently he’d been “briefed quickly” on the plaque but wasn’t sure what was causing the delay.

“I’m very much a supporter of the Capitol Police and I support the Jan. 6 plaque as well. I don’t know exactly what the debate is over; we’re trying to get to the bottom of that,” said Valadao, who was one of just 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 riot. “But any way I can try to get that resolved, to honor those offices, I want to make sure we get it done.”

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