Family members of the late officer Brian Sicknick, who died after the Jan. 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol, appeared to snub Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Tuesday, passing by the pair without shaking their hands at a ceremony to honor officers who served during the attack.
C-SPAN footage shows some of the officers and their family members moving down a line of lawmakers, first shaking the hand of Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and then passing by McConnell and McCarthy. McConnell kept his hand outstretched as the honorees walked by.
Sicknick’s mother, Gladys Sicknick, and brother, Ken Sicknick, were among those who declined to shake the Republican leaders’ hands, according to multiple reports.
McCarthy did not appear to extend his hand, holding on to a box containing one of the medals as the recipients filed by.
The lawmakers were gathered in the Capitol Rotunda to award the Congressional Gold Medal for officers’ service defending the Capitol on Jan. 6.
D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee and U.S. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger accepted medals on behalf of their departments, and family members of officers who died surrounding Jan. 6 joined them for the ceremony.
The 42-year-old Sicknick collapsed during the riot, suffered two strokes and died the following day. Capitol Police have said Sicknick “died in the line of duty, courageously defending Congress and the Capitol.”
Sicknick’s mother ahead of this year’s midterm elections attributed her son’s death to people such as failed Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake (R), who espoused former President Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election had been fraudulent. The fallen officer’s former partner said she blamed people surrounding Trump for not speaking up before the attack.
McConnell and McCarthy both gave remarks at the ceremony after the medals were awarded.
“The Capitol Police and D.C. Police are valued members of this community. But they’re also members of another community. The community of law enforcement. The brotherhood of law enforcement,” McCarthy said, tying the officers’ actions to a broader conversation of law enforcement in the nation.
“These brave men and women are heroes … Days like today force us to realize how much we owe the thin blue line,” McCarthy said.
McConnell said that Congress was able to “finish our job that very night” because of the officers’ actions to secure the Capitol and facilitate the lawmakers’ certification of the 2020 presidential election results.
McConnell was the Senate majority leader during the Jan. 6 attack and has come under scrutiny for voting against convicting Trump in his second impeachment trial over the insurrection, though he has said Trump “provoked” the crowd.
McCarthy has indicated he intends to investigate the House select committee investigating Jan. 6 when Republicans take control of the lower chamber in the next Congress.
“On that terrible day in January, you stared directly into the heart of darkness and, though outnumbered, you held the line, the line of democracy. You bravely held it and democracy endured. In return, those of us in elected office must always strive to care for you,” Schumer said to officers on Tuesday.
—Updated at 2:06 p.m.