House Republicans ridicule Capitol officers, say their visit was politicizing on January 6

HARRISBURG – How the Pennsylvania House of Representatives recognized two police officers on Wednesday who defended the Capitol during the riot on January 6, 2021, several House Republicans booed or rose from the floor in protest, and at least one state official shouted “traitor” at the men.

Legislators routinely bring along special guests to be recognized, such as a local sports team that won a state championship, a school club or a civic association. House Speaker Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia) usually reads the guest list and House members applaud.

That was not the case during Wednesday’s visit by two police officers to the Capitol.

The officers – Harry Dunn and Aquilino Gonell – stopped in Harrisburg during the trip the state supported President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign. Both officers testified before a special U.S. House of Representatives committee on January 6 about how they were treated during the riot.

When McClinton introduced Dunn and Gonell as having “bravely defended democracy” against the rioters, a handful of Republicans left the floor while others remained in the room but voiced their reservations, Democratic members said.

It was not clear from video footage of the proceedings who walked out or booed, as the video does not show the entire House chamber.

Several Democrats said they saw far-right state Rep. Stephanie Borowicz (R., Clinton) shout “traitor” at the men. Borowicz could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.

“There are people who, for whatever reason, have chosen to walk away instead of standing and honoring the heroic actions of these former officers,” said Rep. Jordan Harris (R-Philadelphia). “The fact is that yesterday they turned their back on blue.”

The Biden campaign released a statement from the officials.

“The fact that they are afraid to listen to those of us who were there and witnessed the political violence on January 6 speaks volumes,” Dunn said.

House Republican Minority Leader Bryan Cutler (R., Lancaster), who can be seen standing and applauding the officers along with other Republicans in a video recording of the session, said in a statement that bringing the two officers to the House after the campaign event was inappropriate. He noted that the House Democratic Campaign Committee then tried to raise funds for the incident.

“The goodwill of the PA House Democrats in this situation is suspect as they immediately used their politicized actions in the House chamber to raise funds for their re-election campaign,” Cutler added. “Unfortunately, through the House processes, they have demonstrated a pattern of antagonizing members and encouraging division and discord for political and campaign purposes.”

Democrats took control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 12 years in 2023 and have a one-seat majority. They hope to maintain control in November’s general election, where all 203 seats are on the ballot. Republicans hope to regain the majority.

Rep. Mike Schlossberg (R-Lehigh) argued that House Republicans, who controlled the chamber, would recognize their own politicians, but Democrats did not respond in the same way.

“I find it very interesting that Republicans are saying we are politicizing the January 6 issue,” Schlossberg added. (*6*)

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