Last December, Representative Randy Forbes (R-Va.) sent a letter to President Barack Obama correcting the President’s assertion that “E pluribus unum” — the Latin phrase meaning “from many, one” — was the national motto of the United States in a speech at the University of Indonesia in Jakarta, Indonesia.
A portion of the letter reads:
“E pluribus unum is not our national motto. In 1956, Congress passed and President Eisenhower approved the law establishing ‘In God We Trust’ as the official national motto of the United States. This motto is also referenced in our national anthem and is engraved on our currency.”
The conflict encouraged Forbes to introduce a House bill that would reaffirm that “In God We Trust” is, indeed, the national motto. On Tuesday, the bill was approved 396-9, with two abstentions, according to The Associated Press.
Representative Jerold Nadler (D-N.Y.) called the bill a “distraction from the nation’s real problems,” but Forbes said the reaffirmation is a fight against a “growing and disturbing pattern of inaccuracy and omissions regarding the motto” and a protection to the country’s history. He said that the Capitol Visitor Center opened in 2008 was “sanitized of any reference to our nation’s motto” in a government effort to remove any mention of God from public domain.
According to The Hill, Obama ripped lawmakers later in the day for their decision to vote on the measure.
“That’s not putting people back to work,” Obama said during a speech about infrastructure. “I trust in God, but God wants to see us help ourselves by putting people to work.”