House Democrats on Monday yanked more than a dozen bills from the floor schedule — including one honoring police officers for defending the Capitol on Jan. 6 — after conservative Republicans threatened to force stand-alone votes on each proposal.
The 13 bills had been scheduled for the suspension calendar, a routine procedure allowing non-controversial bills to move quickly to passage on the House floor. Among them was a proposal, sponsored by Speaker (D-Calif.), to award congressional gold medals to Capitol Police and the D.C. Metropolitan Police for each department’s role in the deadly Capitol attack on Jan. 6.
Yet conservatives in the GOP conference indicated they would demand a roll-call vote on each bill — a lengthy process given the health concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic — that would have kept lawmakers voting on the floor until almost dawn on Tuesday.
Rather than push through with that arduous schedule, Democratic leaders postponed floor activity on the 13 suspension bills, and will seek ways to fast-track them at a later date.
“Republicans communicated to us that they were planning on calling for a roll call vote on all 13 bills, which, in this COVID environment with each vote taking 45 minutes, would mean roughly 10 hours of votes,” the office of House Majority Leader (D-Md.) said in a statement announcing the schedule change.
“What a way to thank them,” the office added, referring to the officers in line to receive the medal.
It’s unclear why Republicans sought to prolong the debate on the suspension bills, some of which were sponsored by GOP lawmakers, and all of which enjoyed broad bipartisan support.
The office of House Minority Leader (R-Calif.) did not respond to a request for comment.
The congressional gold medal, the country’s highest civilian honor, is typically reserved for individuals. But given the extraordinary nature of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol — and the sheer number of law enforcement officers who were on hand that day — the House resolution would celebrate those officers collectively, with one medal going to the Capitol Police force, another to the D.C. Metropolitan Police, and a third provided to the Smithsonian Institution. It has broad bipartisan support, boasting 300 co-sponsors.
Other bills postponed on Monday include proposals providing military veterans with COVID vaccines, encouraging small business loans in rural areas, and expanding programs to fight child abuse.
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