Jobs and the national debt have dominated the action on Capitol Hill for much of the 112th Congress, but the House on Tuesday will make a brief detour from that agenda when it considers a measure “reaffirming ‘In God We Trust’ as the official motto of the United States.”
The measure, H.Con.Res. 13, was sponsored by Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) and is expected to be one of several bills coming up for a vote Tuesday evening under fast-track rules.
“In 2006, on the 50th anniversary of its adoption, the Senate reaffirmed ‘In God We Trust’ as the official national motto of the United States,” Forbes said in a statement announcing the vote. “Tomorrow, the House of Representatives will have the same opportunity to reaffirm our national motto and directly confront a disturbing trend of inaccuracies and omissions, misunderstandings of church and state, rogue court challenges, and efforts to remove God from the public domain by unelected bureaucrats.”
The “In God We Trust” resolution marks the second time this month that the House will have voted on a measure related to social issues. Two weeks ago, the chamber approved the “Protect Life Act,” a measure that would prohibit federal funds from going toward health care plans that cover abortion services.
Passage of the “In God We Trust” measure on Tuesday is not a sure thing, as the House’s fast-track rules require a two-thirds majority for passage, and among the resolution’s 64 co-sponsors are only a handful of Democrats.
As The Hill’s Pete Kasperowicz notes, House Judiciary Committee Democrats in their March dissent against the measure argued that the national motto “is not imperiled in any respect” and charged that the panel’s Republicans were “diverting the committee’s time, resources and attention to a measure that has no force of law, only reaffirms existing law and further injects the hand of government into the private religious lives of the American people.”
Forbes in his statement on Monday defended the measure.
“As our nation faces challenging times, it is appropriate for Members of Congress and our nation — like our predecessors — to firmly declare our trust in God, believing that it will sustain us for generations to come,” he said.
At the beginning of the 112th Congress, House Republicans instituted new rules against most symbolic and commemorative resolutions, arguing that such measures were wasteful and made up one-third of all legislation considered by the previous Congress.
The new rules bar consideration of any measure that “expresses appreciation, commends, congratulates, celebrates, recognizes the accomplishments of, or celebrates the anniversary of, an entity, event, group, individual, institution, team or government program; or acknowledges or recognizes a period of time for such purposes.”
After the killing of Osama bin Laden in May, Cantor told reporters that the House would not take up consideration of a standalone resolution honoring U.S. troops and the intelligence community because the new rules call for measures to be “substantive and meaningful.” Language commemorating the bin Laden raid was instead included in the fiscal 2011 intelligence bill.
Asked Monday whether the “In God We Trust” resolution would be considered such a symbolic resolution, a spokesman for Cantor declined to comment.
Is ‘In God We Trust’ a good motto? Rabbi Brad Hirschfield discusses the proposed measure.
This story has been updated.