The House on Tuesday passed a non-binding resolution reaffirming "In God We Trust" as the national motto.
The measure sponsored by Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., supports and encourages the motto's display in all public schools and government buildings. It was approved 396-9, with 2 abstentions.
Forbes said the resolution was needed because President Obama had once called "E pluribus unum" the national motto, and the Latin phrase meaning "from many one" was engraved in the new Capitol Visitors Center until Congress ordered that it be corrected.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., called the resolution a meaningless distraction from the nation's real problems. "Nobody is threatening the national motto," he said.
President Obama responded Wednesday by trying to shame the Republican-controlled House by accusing its leaders of wasting time during a jobs crisis with debates over commemorative baseball coins and reaffirming "In God We Trust" as the country's motto.
"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 back to work. There's work to be done. There are workers ready to do it. The American people are behind this."
Obama's $60 billion plan for infrastructure jobs that is expected to fall victim to a GOP filibuster Thursday. In votes last month, Republicans blocked Obama's entire $447 billion jobs package and a subsequent attempt to pass a $35 billion piece of it aimed at preventing layoffs of teachers and firefighters.
It wasn't the only time discussion about God came up at the White House this week.
White House spokesman Jay Carney invoked scripture Wednesday to back up President Barack Obama's suggestion that God wants U.S. policymakers to get busy and create more jobs.
Carney said Obama was trying to make the point that "we have it within our capacity to do the things to help the American people."
"I believe the phrase from the Bible is, 'The Lord helps those who help themselves,'" Carney said.
Well, no, not really.
A White House transcript of Carney's briefing issued later in the day included the disclaimer: "This common phrase does not appear in the Bible."
"In God We Trust" first appeared on U.S. coins during the Civil War in 1864. It officially became the national motto in 1956 and began appearing on paper currency the following year.