Greene introduced a bill Tuesday to give Rittenhouse the award. While the bill’s full text was not immediately available, a summary states that the measure would “award a Congressional Gold Medal to Kyle H. Rittenhouse, who protected the community of Kenosha, Wisconsin, during a Black Lives Matter (BLM) riot.”
The likelihood that Greene’s effort will be successful is low. A bill requesting a Congressional Gold Medal must be co-sponsored by two-thirds of the House and the Senate, both now controlled by Democrats, before it is considered by the House Financial Services Committee and the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. After it is passed in Congress, the measure must be authorized by the president.
While congressional Democrats and President Biden have said they respect the jury’s decision in Rittenhouse’s case, they have largely condemned his actions in Kenosha.
Rittenhouse, now 18, was found not guilty of homicide, attempted homicide and other charges related to the August 2020 killings. During his trial, the teen testified that he had acted in self-defense when he shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, now 27, during a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, Wis.
Rittenhouse had traveled to Kenosha from his home in Antioch, Ill., to join armed civilians who took to the city’s streets amid unrest sparked by the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was wanted for alleged sexual assault. Blake survived the shooting but was left partially paralyzed.
Rittenhouse’s acquittal was celebrated by many Republicans in Congress, who rushed to Twitter upon hearing the news to congratulate him and describe his actions as a stand for Second Amendment rights. Some House members, including Reps. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), have said they would hire Rittenhouse as an intern in their congressional offices.
Greene was among those who reached out to Rittenhouse upon his acquittal, tweeting that the teenager is “one of [the] good ones.”
Asked about Greene’s bill, Joel Valdez, a spokesman for Gaetz, said Wednesday, “We are concerned that awarding Kyle with a Congressional Gold Medal will give him a big head during the internship with our office.”
The bill, which does not have any co-sponsors yet, has been referred to the House’s Financial Services and Administration committees.
The Senate website says: “Since the American Revolution, Congress has commissioned gold medals as its highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions by individuals or institutions.”
Past recipients, according to a Congressional Research Service report, have been an eclectic group, including Sir Winston Churchill, Bob Hope, George Washington, Robert Frost, Joe Louis, the Dalai Lama, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and Mother Teresa of Kolkata.
Greene told news organizations that she voted against those honors because she didn’t believe the legislation behind them should refer to the Jan. 6 riot as an “insurrection.” She also said she had an issue with how the bill described the Capitol as a “temple of our American Democracy.”
In a statement, Greene defended her bill: “Kyle Rittenhouse deserves to be remembered as a hero who defended his community, protected businesses, and acted lawfully in the face of lawlessness. I’m proud to file this legislation to award Kyle Rittenhouse a Congressional Gold Medal.”
On Wednesday, Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, who was among those honored for defending the Capitol on Jan. 6, said in a Twitter thread that it is “disheartening” to see some celebrate Rittenhouse as a hero while “the brave men and women who fought and defended the Capitol on 1/6 have to continue to fight just for the TRUTH to be told about that day.”
“I have been called every name in the book since my testimony. A political pawn, a sellout, a fake cop, a disgrace to the badge, Pelosi puppet,” Dunn tweeted. “. . . [It’s] sad to see some of the same people who said these things, praise Rittenhouse or just remain silent.”
Rittenhouse met with former president Donald Trump on Tuesday at his property in Mar-a-Lago. Greene shared a picture of Rittenhouse with Trump on Wednesday, saying they are two men she admires.
“Kyle thanks Pres Trump for two most important things the left is trying to destroy,” Greene tweeted. “We must always uphold our Constitution, defend our 2A, & stop our enemies who hate them.”
Greene’s bill would have to advance through the Financial Services and Administration committees. Spokesmen for the two ranking Republicans on those committees, Reps. Patrick T. McHenry (R-N.C.) and Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), respectively, did not respond to requests for comment on the bill.