- A draft of the new rules for the House Committee on Natural Resources seemed to suggest that the words “So help you God” were going to be removed from the oath witnesses take before speaking to the panel.
- However, uproar among some Republicans might have made the Committee go back on its plans.
- Some federal oaths contain the words “So help you God.” But many others do not, including the presidential oath.
The words “So help you God” are common in many federal witness oaths, but the House Committee for Natural Resources almost got rid of them in a new version of its rules – sparking some anger among Republicans.
“It is incredible, but not surprising, that the Democrats would try to remove God from committee proceedings in one of their first acts in the majority,” House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney told Fox News on Tuesday. “They really have become the party of Karl Marx.”
Fox News first reported the removal of the words, publishing a draft of the new rules online. In it, the words “so help you God” are highlighted in red and put in brackets, meaning they will be eliminated. Meanwhile, the words “under penalty of law” have been added to the oath. Had the rules passed, the new oath would have gone like this:
“Do you solemnly swear or affirm, under penalty of law, that the testimony that you are about to give is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?”
What to watch for as the new Congress begins
Though many oaths recited around Washington do include the words “so help you God,” some notable ones – including the presidential oath – do not.
News of the words’ removal, however, angered some Republicans who swiftly acted to add the words back in.
On Wednesday, Representative Deb Dingell, in an interview with Fox, said that the change “would not stand.” To her understanding, she said, “there’s no requirement that that language be in there.” A Republican, she added, suggested that the words be added back in, and Democratic Representative Raul Grijalva said the edit would be reversed.
“It is my full intent to vote to add it back in and let us put this issue behind us and focus on the issues,” she said, before adding, “I mean, this is important, I’m a Catholic girl, but I think people are trying to cause some trouble here to divert instead on focusing on what we’re going to do about healthcare.”
Other changes made to the oath include the replacement of the pronouns “his” and “her” with the pronoun “their.” The rules also will no longer refer to the Committee’s head as “chairman,” opting instead just to say “chair.”