A year after an angry mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, members of the Maine Legislature were divided on a resolution condemning the violence and honoring members of law enforcement who defended Congress.

The joint resolution, which was unanimously passed in the Senate, was opposed by 49 of the 54 Republicans who were present in the Maine House of Representatives on Wednesday.

The resolution describes the rioters as “a group of insurgents” who engaged in an “act of domestic terrorism” and seriously injured 140 law enforcement officers in an attempt to stop the certification of the 2020 presidential election. It resolves to “honor the brave men and women serving in law enforcement committed to protecting the United States Capitol and the Maine State House and recommit to protecting the right of Maine citizens to participate in free and fair elections.”

House Speaker Ryan Fecteau said in an interview Thursday that the split vote underscores the deep political divisions in the country, including in the Maine State House.

“To have members of the other party disagree with a joint resolution condemning the acts of violence that took place that day is pretty baffling to me,” Fecteau said. “It is clear as day that the acts that occurred and (the) insurrectionists that stormed the Capitol should not be celebrated or forgiven or protected by any political party.”

Rep. John Andrews, R-Paris, spoke and voted against the resolution Wednesday, saying that a blanket statement about Jan. 6 was not appropriate. Instead, he said constituents and the media should ask individual lawmakers how they feel about the riot.

In an interview Thursday, Andrews said he does not condone last year’s violence. However, he said, “I don’t have all of the facts” to describe in his own words what happened last year. He also would not say whether he believes President Biden was legitimately elected or whether he thinks the election was stolen.

“I’m not going to comment on any of that,” Andrews said. “I think that was the purpose of what (Senate President Troy) Jackson did with his resolution – to get people to ask questions that are not germane to our work in the Legislature. I’m focused on my bills for the second session and committee work.”

Since losing re-election, Trump and his allies have continued to push the Big Lie – that the 2020 election was stolen. The message has become engrained in the Republican base despite a lack of evidence and string of dismissed lawsuits claiming voter fraud. Polling shows that about two-thirds of the party believes the 2020 election was stolen from Trump, who maintains a firm grip on the party with legislative and gubernatorial elections around the corner.

Only three of those Republicans who voted against the resolution spoke during Wednesday’s floor debate, saying they support law enforcement but they don’t support describing the event as “domestic terrorism.”

“Not one single case has been tried and proved as domestic terrorism,” said Rep. Beth O’Connor, R-Berwick. “With all due respect to the president of the Senate, I think this is a fluff piece and it should have never seen the light of day.”

Fecteau said Thursday that no one has been charged with domestic terrorism, because the Patriot Act only allows those charges for foreign groups, not domestic groups.

Rep. Joel Stetkis, R-Canaan, the assistant minority leader, said the resolution was “political rhetoric disguised as support for law enforcement.”

While stressing his support for law enforcement, Rep. Lester Ordway, R-Standish, said Thursday that he believes Biden was legitimately elected in 2020 and that he voted against the resolution because he thought it was premature to describe the attackers as domestic terrorists.

“I’ve got another reason and I’m going to leave it out,” he said.

Other area Republicans who opposed the resolution – Reps. Sue Austin of Gray, Heidi Sampson of Alfred, Wayne Perry of Arundel and Mark Blier of Buxton – did not respond to phone calls and emails seeking an interview.

House Minority Leader Kathleen Dillingham, of Oxford, who was absent, did not respond to interview requests.

The resolution passed, 77-49, in the House with 23 people absent, including 11 Republicans.

Despite strong partisan opposition to the resolution, the Republican House caucus does not have a formal position, according to John Bott, a spokesman for House Republicans. “It was never discussed prior to the debate,” Bott said in an email.

Jackson, who sponsored the resolution, said he was “quite shocked, surprised and dismayed” that so many House Republicans voted against it, especially since it passed unanimously in the Senate. He said “domestic terrorists” was the only word he could think of to describe the attackers.

The White House, FBI and Justice Department have described the attack as domestic terrorism, though no formal charges have been filed.

“I honestly don’t know what else you would have called it,” Jackson said. “Again, the meat of it is recognizing the men and women who did their job that day in the face of, what I would say, are incredible odds and very scary odds. I don’t know how you vote against those people.”

Note: This article was updated Friday, Jan. 7, to correct a reference to Rep. Kathleen Dillingham, who was absent and did not cast a vote on the resolution.

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