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Opinion: ‘I do solemnly swear …’

With the exception of the president of the United States, an individual elected or appointed to an office of honor or profit in the civil service or uniformed services must take the following oath: “I, ___, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

The president also is required by the U.S. Constitution to take an oath of office as outlined in Article 2, Section 1, which says, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

There are variations of these oaths, depending on the office. For example, an incoming Pennsylvania school board member will be taking this oath early in December: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support, obey and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this Commonwealth, and that I will discharge the duties of my office with fidelity.”

These oaths are pretty straightforward. In them, the employee or officeholder swears support and defense of the Constitution against enemies, swears allegiance to the Constitution and promises to do his or her job well.

They do not swear allegiance to a political party, a supervisor or an agency, not even to the president. The intent is to protect the public from a government that might become the victim of political whims.

Knowing this, I can’t understand why some Republicans want to punish 13 House of Representative members who voted for the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that President Joe Biden recently signed into law.

Nor can I see why Democrats are attempting to browbeat U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona because they have legitimate questions about the $1.75 trillion Build Back Better bill which just passed the House and has now gone to the Senate.

With today’s highly politicized Congress, passage of the infrastructure bill was a rare example of bipartisanship to move on a measure which many Americans favor to address the deficiency of our nation’s roads, bridges, water supplies, electrical grid, broadband coverage and other critical infrastructure.

Every state will benefit from this program, but instead of hailing the action as a badly needed step forward, many Republicans have branded their 13 colleagues as “traitors” - not traitors to their country, but traitors to their party.


Led by former President Donald Trump, these Republicans want to “punish” their colleagues. They are threatening to find more “loyal” candidates to run against these 13 in 2022. Some GOP members of Congress are asking Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to strip the 13 of their committee assignments.

Among the Republicans who voted to support the bill was Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, whose district includes all of Bucks and a sliver of Montgomery counties in southeastern Pennsylvania.

As expected, local Democrats Susan Wild and Matt Cartwright voted for the legislation, while Republican Dan Meuser, whose district includes Carbon County, voted “no.”

Fitzpatrick shares my view that voting on legislation shouldn’t matter about who benefits politically. Of course, we know that this is not how Washington operates these days. Virtually every move by both parties is politically motivated rather being based on what’s best for the people.

Those who are livid with Fitzpatrick and the other dozen call them RINOs - Republicans in Name Only. These angry Republicans insist that if it were not for these 13 Republicans, the infrastructure bill would have gone down in flames - an embarrassing defeat for Biden, who hailed its passage as one of the keystones of his presidential agenda. Six progressive Democrats voted against the bill. If all Republicans had stayed in lockstep with the party line, the bill would have failed.

It’s curious to me that Trump had championed an infrastructure bill when he was in the White House, but he could never get the proposal over the goal line. Now that a Democratic president was able to have success with essentially many of the same features of the bill, Trump was among the first to condemn it and the Republicans who “gave Biden this victory.”

This should not be a case of the president winning or losing. All that matters is whether it benefits us citizens. By all accounts, it will. Certainly, we here in Pennsylvania know how much we are in need of better roads and repairs, replacement of deficient bridges, better broadband coverage in our rural areas and improvements to our water supplies.

Fitzpatrick said this is something everybody needs to get behind, “because it’s an investment in the nuts and bolts of our country.”

It is time for our representatives and senators to stop worrying about whether their votes will be pleasing to Republicans or Democrats. “Political parties” are never mentioned in the Constitution, because they weren’t around at the start of the Republic.

Our elected officials need to do their jobs on our behalf, because that is what most Americans expect and deserve from their public servants.

By Bruce Frassinelli | tneditor@tnonline.com

The foregoing opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editorial Board or Times News LLC.