Did Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) fire the House chaplain over a prayer he recently led in the House chambers, criticizing the GOP tax cut, or is there something more to the story? Does everything have to revolve around politics? Is it possible he was just no longer doing the job he was hired to do?
Conroy’s own resignation announcement stated that it was done at Ryan’s request.
“As you have requested, I hereby offer my resignation as the 60th Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives,” the April 15 letter to Ryan, obtained by The Hill, states.
Through his office, Conroy, who has served as chaplain since 2011, declined to comment on Thursday. His resignation is effective May 24.
Four different sources — two from each party — say Conroy was told that he must retire or that he would be dismissed.
The message from Ryan was delivered by his chief of staff, Jonathan Burks.
The issue has riled House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who broached the episode during the Democrats’ whip meeting in the Capitol Thursday morning.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers are planning to send a letter to Ryan requesting additional information regarding Conroy’s dismissal; the group is currently circulating the letter among colleagues to collect more signatures.
House chaplains, who offer an opening prayer each day the House is in session, are supposed to be nonpartisan.
On Nov. 6 — the first day of the markup on the GOP’s tax bill — Conroy in a prayer urged lawmakers to ensure the legislation did not exacerbate the nation’s gaping class disparities.
“May all Members be mindful that the institutions and structures of our great Nation guarantee the opportunities that have allowed some to achieve great success, while others continue to struggle,” Conroy said at the time. “May their efforts these days guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans.”
AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Ryan, said it was Ryan’s decision, but declined to offer a reason for the move. She added that Pelosi and her office “were fully read in and did not object.”
“The speaker told Leader Pelosi that he would not move forward with the decision if she objected and she chose not to,” Strong said.