Rep. Jared Huffman (D., Calif.) criticized Rep. Liz Cheney (R., Wyo.) on Sunday for going "ballistic" after a House of Representatives committee proposed in January to remove references to God in the oath witnesses take before hearings.
Controversy arose when the House Natural Resources Committee—on which Huffman sits—drafted a new set of rules that would remove "so help you God" from the oath. The new rules also included other wording revisions, including switching all references to the committee's "chairman" to the "chair" and changing all instances of "his or her" to the gender-neutral "their."
After learning of the proposed changes, Cheney denounced the deletion of "so help you God" on Fox News's Fox & Friends.
"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," she said. "They really have become the party of Karl Marx."
Cheney's words, along with greater attention surrounding the possible changes, prompted the committee to revisit the issue and to keep the "so help you God" phrase.
Huffman, who identifies as a "humanist," responded to Cheney's words more than seven months after the event on Freethought Matters, a show which supports religious skepticism.
"Liz Cheney just went ballistic," he said. "She smelled blood in the water, went on Fox News, and started ranting about how Democrats were dropping God from the Congress. And at our next meeting, the Republicans, one by one, made these pronouncements about how, you know, we shouldn't be against God and Democrats were against God, and unfortunately, my Democratic colleagues backed down, and so we now nominally still have that same oath."
Huffman also said that it is "unconstitutional" to require a witness "to affirm an oath to a deity they may not even believe in."
"It really, frankly strains credulity that in this day and age Congress would have something like that, and yet some of the politics persist," Huffman said, adding that mentioning religion is "a political opportunity for many of my colleagues."
A Cheney spokesperson responded to Huffman's comments stating, "Liz Cheney will always defend God. Period. If that bothers Rep. Huffman, we'll be praying for him."