For State Representative Tim Roche, his vote on a Maine Resolution calling the January 6, 2021 insurgency an “act of domestic terrorism” and honoring law enforcement officers who ensure the country’s security and the right to vote, was a personal matter.
He thought of a time when his son, then a teenager in the Senate for former Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, berated him for leaning against a desk while visiting the United States Capitol.
“He’s like ‘Daddy, what are you doing?’ Said Roche (R-Wells). He then asked his son if the office belonged to someone important.
“No, it’s an office,” his son replied, “But it’s a senator’s office.” Roche said his son went on to explain why leaning on a desk, something so minor compared to the insurgency, was disrespectful.
Fast forward to 2021. Roche remembers calling his son as rioters entered the Capitol hoping to stop current President Joe Biden’s certification and hearing his son cry on the other end of the phone. .
“He was rightfully in tears,” Roche said. “He’s a difficult kid. He’s a businessman. He knows life. He says, ‘Daddy, this is wrong,’ and he’s a Republican.
“It’s so wrong, at every level, for it to be accepted as something other than, in my mind, a terrorist group that decided to do it,” Roche said.
Roche was not surprised to see the majority of his Republican colleagues in the House vote no on Wednesday. He admits he’s already considered a RINO, or Republican in name only, by some in his party.
“I heard people were already starting to talk about me, and the rest (who voted yes), I’m sure,” he said. “(They say) we’ve kind of abandoned our party and I totally disagree. In fact, I think we have made our party stronger by being able to say that is wrong. What happened is wrong.
While the decision to support the resolution was obvious to Roche, Rep. Amy Arata (R – New Gloucester) said she was unsure how to vote when the resolution first crossed her desk.
Arata decided to support the measure, becoming one of the only five House Republicans to do it. Arata did it because “it was terrible with what these people did to the police.”
Still, Arata called the vote very political and rushed off.
She struggled to use the term “domestic terrorism” to describe the events of January 6, in which hundreds of protesters broke into the United States Capitol demanding the presidency be given to Trump (more than 700 were arrested). Arata said she understood why her colleagues were against it.
“A lot of Republicans were like, ‘Wait a minute. We’re not sure it’s domestic terrorism,” Arata said. As for her vote, she pointed to insurgents chanting’ hang (vice president) Mike Pence ”and weird cries looking for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
“For me, they’re trying to terrorize someone. It would scare me, ”she said. “So that’s, you know, one of the reasons I decided to go ahead and vote yes. But I didn’t think it was an appropriate thing to vote on at that time. ”
Rep. Patrick Corey (R-Windham) echoed some of Arata’s concerns about the use of the words domestic terrorism, noting that no one has been charged with this particular crime in relation to the insurgency. But in the end, he said the feeling of the resolution was right, so he also voted yes.
Still, Corey said it was “horribly written” and would further divide the legislature. He said such a resolution could open the door for Republicans to draft a resolution condemning the summer protests.
“I think it’s disuniting and intentionally put there for campaign reasons,” Corey said. “… Why throw gas on a fire?” ”
Although no insurgents have been accused of domestic terrorism, the use of the term in association with the events of January 6 has been used by both the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. Rocher noted that even US Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a staunch Republican, called it terrorism.
Rep. Bruce Bickford (R-Auburn) called the resolution “spot on”.
“He did not attack any individual and politics, he did not attack any party. So it was fair. It was the right wording, I think.
Bickford had no problem with the tongue. “It was domestic terrorism,” he said. “I mean, it was brutal, which they did.”
When asked if it was the Republican Party’s line to oppose the January 6 measures, Bickford said no. “No one ever told me how to vote,” he said. “And if they ever did, I certainly still voted as I expected.”
Representative William Tuell (R-Machias), the only other Republican yes, did not return an appeal before the deadline Thursday. There were also 23 members absent on Wednesday for the start of the session.
While a strong majority of House Republicans opposed the resolution, it was passed by the Maine Senate unanimously and without a recorded vote.
Senate Speaker Troy Jackson (D-Allagash), who sponsored the resolution, said there was no controversy over recognition of the insurgency and support for law enforcement in the Senate.
“We passed this in the Senate under a hammer without any real conversation,” Jackson said Thursday. He added that he had previously spoken to Senator Matthew Pouliot (R-Kennebec), who said there was no problem with the resolution.
Corey said the Senate “took him by the chin”, but the House, which he described as “the most volatile body” had decided “damn it, let’s vote.”
Arata said the resolution was a “surprise”, a “sneak attack” and should have been on the House calendar. Because the measure emanates from the Senate, it would never have been on the calendar and should be sent as a supplement.
Jackson said complaints that it was a surprise, which came from a few Republicans during the floor debate on Wednesday, showed they had “no idea of the (legislative) process.”
“Yesterday was the first day of the damn session,” Jackson said. “So they should probably figure out how to do their job before they start criticizing this stuff. ”
Jackson also said Republicans who voted against the resolution are hypocritical.
“These people are the first to wave the Constitution and wrap themselves in the flag, and they are unwilling to stand up and at least recognize the (law enforcement) people over there who have stood up.” against massive treasure, whatever you want to call them and have them done their job, ”Jackson said.