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Dad. House Republicans applaud Capitol officers, saying their visit politicized Jan. 6

HARRISBURG – As the Pennsylvania House of Representatives recognized two police officers on Wednesday defending the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6, 2021, riot, several Republicans in the House of Representatives booed or walked off the floor in protest, Democratic members said.

Lawmakers routinely bring special guests to be recognized, such as a local sports team that has won a state championship, a school club or a civic association. House Speaker Joanna McClinton (D., Philadelphia) typically reads the list of visitors, and House members applaud.

That was not the case when the two U.S. Capitol Police officers visited Wednesday.

The officers – Harry Dunn and Aquilino Gonell – stopped in Harrisburg while traveling through the state in support of President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign. Both officers testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Jan. 6 about how they were treated during the riot.

When McClinton introduced Dunn and Gonell as those who had “bravely defended democracy” against rioters, a handful of Republican members left the floor, several others booed and at least one shouted “traitor” at the guests, several Democratic members said.

“There are people who, for whatever reason, instead of standing up and honoring the heroic action of these former officers, decided to walk away,” said Rep. Jordan Harris (D., Philadelphia ). “The fact is that they turned their backs yesterday.”

House Republican Minority Leader Bryan Cutler (R., Lancaster) said in a statement that it was inappropriate to bring the two officials to the House session after a campaign event, noting that the House Democratic Campaign Committee had subsequently attempted to raise money for the incident. (Cutler and other Republicans are seen on video of the proceedings standing and applauding the officers, but the video does not show the entire House chamber or the Republicans walking out.)

“The goodwill of the PA House Democrats is suspect in this situation, as they immediately used their politicized actions in the House chamber to raise money for their campaign coffers,” Cutler added. “Unfortunately, through the processes in the House of Representatives, they have demonstrated a pattern of antagonizing members and inviting division and disagreement for their political and campaign purposes.”

Democrats took control of the State House for the first time in twelve years in 2023 and have a one-seat majority. They hope to retain control in November’s general election, with all 203 seats on the ballot paper. The Republicans hope to regain the majority.

Rep. Mike Schlossberg (D., Lehigh) claimed that Republicans in the House of Representatives, when they controlled the House, would recognize their own political figures, and that Democrats did not have the same reaction.

“I find it very interesting that Republicans are saying that we are politicizing the January 6 issue,” Schlossberg added. “If they see an attack on democracy as an attack on the Republican Party, their policies may not be consistent with democracy.”

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