The U.S. Senate unanimously voted on Feb. 12 to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Eugene Goodman, the Capitol police officer who’s been hailed for his role in steering protesters away from the Senate chambers during the Jan. 6 breach of the Capitol building.
The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest honor that Congress can bestow. The measure to give the award to Goodman was passed by unanimous consent days after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced that Capitol Police officers who protected the building during the events last month would receive the medal. Pelosi’s office later released a draft (pdf) of the legislation that the House speaker said will “pay tribute to the Capitol Police and other law enforcement personnel who protected the Capitol.”
Goodman, who has since been promoted to acting deputy Senate sergeant-at-arms, was captured on video successfully guiding Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) away from the intruders and back to the Senate chamber on Jan. 6.
Romney at the time credited Goodman for his actions, saying that he was “very fortunate” that Goodman was there to “get me in the right direction.”
Goodman’s “foresight in the midst of chaos, and his willingness to make himself a target of the mob’s rage so that others might reach safety,” said Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, on Feb. 12, addressing the officer who stood in the back of the chamber.
“In the weeks after the attack on Jan. 6, the world learned about the incredible bravery of Officer Goodman on that fateful day,” Schumer said. “I think we can all agree that Eugene Goodman deserves the highest honor Congress can bestow.”
Lawmakers burst into a standing ovation for Goodman, who briefly placed his hand on his heart. Schumer said all the law enforcement officers who responded to the Capitol breach should be honored and recognized as well.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said he was “pleased to join the majority leader’s request.”
“If not for the quick thinking and bravery of Officer Eugene Goodman in particular, the people in this chamber may not have escaped that day unharmed,” McConnell added.
Pelosi said on Feb. 11 that members of Congress “will never forget” what officers did on Jan. 6.
“The service of the Capitol Police force that day brings honor to our democracy and their accepting this reward brings luster to this medal. We must all remember their sacrifice and stay vigilant against what I’ve said before about what Abraham Lincoln said, ‘the silent artillery of time.’ We will never forget,” she said.
Reuters contributed to this report.