The House Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday voted to keep "so help you God" in the oath administered to witnesses testifying before the panel, a day after Republicans denounced an apparent effort to strike the language.
A draft of a new committee rules package obtained exclusively by Fox News this week indicated the committee planned to omit the phrase from the oath "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?"
But on Wednesday, the committee voted to keep “so help you God” in the oath as part of the rules package after a debate on the issue, according to aides and a video of the committee's deliberations posted to social media. A spokesman for Democratic Arizona Rep. Raul Grijalva, the committee chairman, did not return a request for comment from Fox News.
A day earlier, Republican leaders reacted with dismay to the proposed change, suggesting it was part of a leftward shift by the Democratic Party. The draft placed the words "so help you God" in red brackets, indicating they were slated to be cut. The words "under penalty of law" were in red text, indicating that Democrats proposed to add that phrasing to the oath.
“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, R-Wyo., told Fox News. "They really have become the party of Karl Marx.”
The House Natural Resources Committee has oversight of national parks, wildlife and energy.
The proposed change was not the first time Democrats have sought to strike references to God in official party documents. In 2012, the floor of the Democratic National Convention erupted over a sudden move to restore to the platform a reference to God and recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital -- after heavy criticism from Republicans for initially omitting them. Democrats, though, were hardly in agreement over the reversal.
A large and loud group of delegates shouted "no" as the convention chairman (then-Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa) called for the vote. Villaraigosa had to call for the vote three times before ruling that the "ayes" had it. Many in the crowd booed after he determined the language would be restored.