What’s the story?
- At the conclusion of Friday’s session of the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, the Senate voted unanimously to award U.S. Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman the Congressional Gold Medal for his actions to defend the Capitol during the deadly riot on January 6th.
- The Senate passed the bill after Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) spoke of the bravery displayed by Goodman and the rest of the Capitol Police before passing the bill by unanimous consent, and the entire chamber gave Goodman ― who was standing at the back of the chamber ― a standing ovation:
- During the Capitol riot, Goodman was captured on video by a journalist when he confronted a crowd of rioters in the hallways of the Capitol. After noticing that the entrance to the Senate chamber was unguarded, Goodman reported the intrusion by radio and despite being alone, antagonized the mob into following him upstairs, away from the Senate to a location where additional officers were waiting. The bill states:
“Officer Eugene Goodman’s selfless and quick-thinking actions doubtlessly saved lives and bought security personnel precious time to secure and ultimately evacuate the Senate before the armed mob breached the Chamber.”
- In security camera footage seen publicly for the first time this week during impeachment proceedings, Goodman also helped direct Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) out of a hallway that the rioters were approaching.
- Goodman, who grew up in Washington, D.C., is an Army veteran who served from 2002 to 2006 and saw combat in Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division.
What is the Congressional Gold Medal?
- The Congressional Gold Medal is considered to be one of the most prestigious ways for Congress to recognize individuals or institutions and express public gratitude on behalf of the nation. To award it, Congress passes a bill that is signed into law by the president, at which point there is a process for designing, minting, and awarding the gold medal. After the medal is struck, a formal ceremony is often scheduled for it to be awarded to the recipient.
- It is not to be confused with the Congressional Medal of Honor, which is the nation’s highest military award for bravery and is awarded by the president in the name of Congress.
- The first Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to George Washington during the Revolutionary War in 1776, and for decades it was primarily awarded to military leaders. Since then, it has been awarded more broadly to over a hundred individuals and groups, including the Little Rock Nine, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the Navajo Code Talkers, and the Fallen Heroes of 9/11.
- With the Senate’s approval of the bill to award Goodman the Congressional Gold Medal, the House will take action on the bill when it returns from recess and send it to President Joe Biden’s desk.
— Eric Revell
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