WASHINGTON, DC -- Today, as the nation marks one year since the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), Chairman of the Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee, took to the floor of the U.S. Senate to pay tribute to U.S. Capitol Police officers and members of the U.S. National Guard, and discuss ongoing efforts to investigate the attack, protect our democracy, and ensure the right to free and fair elections

“Mr. President, a year ago, thousands of supporters of then-President Donald Trump – marching under banners supporting secession, conspiracy theories, and white supremacy – violently stormed the U.S. Capitol and breached the Senate and House chambers in hopes of overturning a free and fair election in which 7 million more Americans voted for President Biden. There was, of course, no proof and no truth to the claims of aberrant voting that Mr. Trump invented in order to fuel the mob.

The assault on the Capitol was an attack on the United States and on democracy itself. We have the brave men and women of the U.S. Capitol Police to thank for defending the country against what can accurately be called an insurrection.  And while the assault failed that day thanks to the efforts of these officers and their partners from neighboring jurisdictions, an insidious campaign against our democracy continues through the baseless lies and antics of the former President and his associates

Mr. Trump set the events of January 6th in motion when he refused to say he would accept the results of the November 2020 election, and he continued to value his ego over our democracy when he urged the mob to march on the Capitol and disrupt the election certification process.  He repeatedly lied that the election he lost by 7 million votes had somehow been ‘stolen’ when the facts and the courts demonstrated that was clearly not the case. 

Stoked by his vitriol, Mr. Trump’s supporters used pipes and flag poles to brutally beat police officers. 

Some of the attacks were also directed at or planned to be directed at our own members in both the house and the senate.

And anyone who refused to subvert the election was a target of the insurrectionist mob, including Mr. Trump’s own Vice President, Mike Pence.  And Mr. Trump, who lit the fuse, stood by. His actions sent a demoralizing signal to billions around the world as they watched his supporters assault the Capitol. 

One year ago today, the U.S. Capitol Police, federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, and the National Guard physically cleared and secured the Capitol building and grounds.  The House of Representatives impeached Mr. Trump for his actions, yet most of my Senate Republican colleagues made tortured arguments that his actions were reprehensible but not technically impeachable.  As a result, the democratically defeated former president continues his rhetorical assaults through lies and misinformation.  He would rather rip apart our country and undermine our elections and democracy rather than accept the will of the American voters. 

The bipartisan U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol is working tirelessly to get to the truth of that day.  It is methodically collecting and following the evidence, despite a lack of cooperation from Mr. Trump and his inner circle.  The Committee must continue to be transparent and we must all continue to call out the repeated lies of Trump and his enablers. 

Every American, regardless of party affiliation, who believes in the right to vote and upholding the Constitution should want the truth about January 6 to come out. 

Congress must rise to the occasion.  The stakes could not be any higher.  Because of the former President’s actions a year ago and his relentless lying since then, a significant minority of Americans now indicate that violence is an acceptable way to resolve political disagreement.  We cannot afford to have such a sentiment persist.  Together we must accept the truth, restore trust in one another, and take steps to improve political discourse.

One step we must take is to honor the officers of the Capitol Police not just with our words but with real support.  Last year, we passed a supplemental appropriations bill that provided over $107 million in additional funding, including roughly $35 million for overtime, retention bonuses, hazard pay, and student loan repayments for officers.  It also provided critical funding to address the trauma experienced by our officers and help support their mental health needs.

But we can’t stop there.  We have to continue in this year’s fiscal budget 2022  to support our police continue to continue support those who protect us. I am afraid if we don’t quickly resolve our differences that we could fall in to a state of a continuing resolution, this would actually deny our police, the Capitol Police and our security forces the tools they need not only to protect us and protect themselves but also to sustain their morale, sustain their mental health, sustain their personhood.

So I hope we can make progress at least on that point of reaching a budget solution on behalf of the men and women who protect us, who literally on that day gave their lives for us.

Now, in addition to that, we have a critical role to play when it comes to safeguarding the rights of the American voter, and we have before us with the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and the Freedom To Vote Act Ready for passage, we have the opportunity and the time is now.  

I continue to urge my colleagues, both Republican and Democrat, to work together to swiftly pass these critical voting rights bills that are needed to protect our elections and our democracy.  We must bolster the security, accessibility, and transparency of our elections in order to mend the wounds of January 6th and begin to heal as a nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.”

Link to the Floor Video