By Sam Youngman - 11/02/11 04:01 PM EDT
President Obama invoked God on Wednesday as he criticized Congress for voting on commemorative coins and a resolution reaffirming “In God We Trust” as the national motto in all public buildings, public schools and other government institutions.
“That’s not putting people back to work,” Obama said. “I trust in God, but God wants to see us help ourselves by putting people to work.”
Obama called on Congress to approve his jobs package.
“There’s no excuse for 100 percent of Washington Republicans to say no,” Obama said. “That means Republicans in Washington are out of touch with Republican voters.”
Obama continued: “The American people are with me on this.”
The House on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a measure reaffirming “In God We Trust” as the national motto. The resolution was supported by all House Democratic leaders, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.). It attracted only nine “no” votes, eight from Democrats. The only Republican who opposed it was freshman Rep. Justin Amash (Mich.). Two Democrats, Reps. Keith Ellison (Minn.) and Mel Watt (N.C.), voted “present.”
Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), the sponsor of the measure, said the resolution is necessary to remind Obama and other public officials who forget the motto, whether intentionally or not.
“Unfortunately, there are a number of public officials who forget what the national motto is, whether intentionally or unintentionally,” Forbes said Tuesday. “There are those who become confused as to whether or not it can still be placed on our buildings, whether it can be placed in our school classrooms.”
Forbes singled out Obama at one point in his floor remarks.
“Almost a year ago, the president in making a speech across the world said that our national motto was ‘E pluribus unum,’” Forbes said. “When the Visitor Center was opened ... they did not have the national motto in there. In fact, they inscribed in the stones that our national motto was ‘E pluribus unum.’”
In his remarks, made during an appearance near D.C.’s Key Bridge in Georgetown, Obama continued pushing for billions of dollars for infrastructure building and repair — a portion of his jobs plan. He targeted Republicans like Speaker John Boehner (Ohio), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.) by name.
The president hammered Republicans for voting against his proposals, noting that 72 percent of poll respondents support increased infrastructure spending as a job-producing measure.
He also praised construction workers and announced another in a series of executive actions, this one expediting loans and competitive grants to get projects funded.
“Construction workers want to do their jobs,” Obama said. “We need Congress to do theirs.”
Harkening back to the first bridge he visited after announcing his jobs plan — one connecting McConnell’s home state of Kentucky to Boehner’s Ohio — the president teed off on Republicans while praising Democrats, like Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who was in the audience. The Minnesotan, Obama said, is someone who “gets it.”
“She’s seen a bridge fall apart in her state,” Obama said, referring to the 2007 collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River bridge.
— This story was posted at 12:01 p.m. and last updated at 8:08 p.m.