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Obama rips House "In God we trust" vote

President Barack Obama speaks about jobs, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011, at Georgetown Waterfront Park in Washington. Obama is urging Congress to pass the infrastructure piece of the American Jobs Act. AP

President Obama on Wednesday mocked a vote Tuesday evening in the House of Representatives to reaffirm "In God We Trust" as the nation's motto.

In a waterfront speech in Washington calling on Congress to pass legislation to repair the nation's crumbling infrastructure, the president said Congress should be able to get to the legislation, noting members have "been debating a commemorative coin for baseball" and reaffirming the "In God We Trust" motto.

"That's not putting people back to work," he said. "I trust in God, but God wants to see us help ourselves by putting people back to work."

The Republican-led House passed a bill 396-9 to reaffirm the motto on Tuesday night, with sponsor Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) saying it was needed because "there are a number of public officials who forget what the national motto is, whether intentionally or unintentionally."

Forbes said some lawmakers "become confused as to whether or not it can still be placed on our buildings, whether it can be placed in our school classrooms," and specifically cited Mr. Obama, who he complained had suggested the motto is "E Pluribus Unum."

In his comments Wednesday, made near the Key Bridge linking Washington with Virginia, Mr. Obama said Americans support his effort to get Congress to pass the infrastructure improvement legislation, part of his American Jobs Act that was previously blocked by Congressional Republicans.

"This week, they've got another chance to vote for a jobs bill that will help private sector companies put hundreds of thousands of construction workers back on the job rebuilding our roads, our airports, our bridges and our transit systems," he said.

The president specifically referenced House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and other Republican leaders, saying "I can't imagine that Speaker Boehner wants to represent a state where nearly one in four bridges is classified as substandard."

"When 72 percent of the American people support the ideas in this bill -- 72 percent of Americans agree with this -- Republicans, Democrats and independents -- there's no excuse for 100 percent of Washington Republicans to say no," said the president. "That's means that the Republicans in Washington are out of touch with Republican voters."

At his press briefing Monday, Boehner called on Mr. Obama to pressure Senate Democrats to pass House-passed jobs bills.

"While the president is out doing campaign events all over the country, what he could do is to actually come to Washington and be focused on trying to help pass bills that would create a better environment for job creation and help put the American people back to work," said Boehner.

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