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Lawmakers push for Ryan to keep House chaplain he asked to resign

Lawmakers from both parties are lobbying House Speaker Paul Ryan to take steps to rescind his request that the House ...

Posted: May 3, 2018 9:43 AM
Updated: May 3, 2018 9:43 AM

Lawmakers from both parties are lobbying House Speaker Paul Ryan to take steps to rescind his request that the House chaplain resign, a week after news of the Wisconsin Republican's call for the Rev. Pat Conroy to step down became public.

Republican Rep. Walter Jones of North Carolina asked Ryan to reinstate Conroy, saying in a letter he believes the way the House chaplain was let go reflected "poorly on the House" and appears "intentionally underhanded."

"Not only was I dismayed that Father Conroy was apparently asked to resign without explanation, I was troubled by the manner in which it was done. All members were not asked for their opinions on the chaplain's performance," Jones said in the letter. "Instead, it appears a decision to push him out was made behind closed doors based on the input of only a few."

The letter continued: "It appears the decision was made to minimize the input of members, and executed surreptitiously to overcome what was likely to be their overwhelming objection. It appears intentionally underhanded, and that is deeply disappointing!"

Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia, who like Ryan is Catholic, said in a phone interview with CNN on Wednesday that he's part of informal discussions between about a dozen Democrats and Republicans, including members of the conservative Freedom Caucus, who are looking at options to bring back Conroy.

Conroy, a Jesuit priest, resigned April 15 after he spent nearly seven years praying at the outset of House sessions. He wrote two versions of his resignation letter, which were both obtained by CNN from a congressional source. In the first version, he wrote that Ryan should consult with his chief of staff on a resignation date, but the second version stated his last day would be May 24.

Connolly said a popular option among the group is to find a way to revoke the letter of resignation and get Ryan to agree to a different resignation date of January 3, 2019 -- the end date of the current Congress and Conroy's term.

It's not immediately clear why Conroy was asked to resign.

CNN reported last week that Ryan requested the House chaplain resign from his post earlier this month, and several prominent Democratic lawmakers -- and some Republicans -- want more information as to why the priest was asked to step down.

According to a person who attended last week's GOP conference meeting, the speaker explained that he asked Conroy to resign "based on member feedback about pastoral care."

A separate GOP member who attended the meeting said Ryan "didn't say this as bluntly but the reason for the change is that many of us like Father Conroy but we feel like he didn't do anything. We never see him. We never hear from him. We'd like to have a more active priest/pastor."

In the meantime, a committee of Democrats and Republicans would search for a chaplain, and Conroy could be considered a candidate in that search.

"That would restore his dignity and, frankly, the dignity of the House," Connolly said.

The bipartisan discussions on keeping Conroy were first reported by the Huffington Post.

While they haven't approached GOP leadership yet, Connolly said he has informed House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of their conversations.

Once Congress returns from recess next week, Connolly said, the group will discuss next steps.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 343505

Reported Deaths: 7543
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds23932444
DeSoto23229283
Harrison20527329
Rankin15411291
Jackson15232252
Madison10959227
Lee10719179
Jones9047169
Forrest8723159
Lauderdale7884244
Lowndes7054151
Lamar702989
Lafayette6548124
Washington5595139
Pearl River5196152
Bolivar4954134
Oktibbeha494398
Panola4771112
Warren4728128
Marshall4701106
Pontotoc447773
Union433279
Monroe4330137
Neshoba4281181
Hancock428088
Lincoln4176116
Pike3667113
Leflore3627125
Tate353388
Alcorn350974
Sunflower347694
Scott341176
Adams340988
Yazoo339376
Copiah324968
Simpson322891
Itawamba314680
Coahoma314085
Tippah306568
Prentiss298863
Covington293484
Leake285475
Marion284181
Wayne277543
George272251
Grenada269488
Newton262364
Tishomingo239770
Winston236784
Jasper230648
Stone229637
Attala226373
Chickasaw219060
Holmes200174
Clay197654
Clarke186880
Tallahatchie183742
Calhoun181332
Smith179235
Yalobusha171540
Walthall145748
Lawrence142826
Greene140134
Amite137543
Noxubee135235
Perry133538
Montgomery133044
Carroll126431
Webster121232
Jefferson Davis116734
Tunica114227
Benton106725
Claiborne105331
Kemper102429
Humphreys100133
Franklin87923
Quitman84719
Choctaw82619
Wilkinson78032
Jefferson71328
Sharkey51618
Issaquena1736
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 585607

Reported Deaths: 11536
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson851431591
Mobile48584864
Madison37411533
Shelby27192257
Tuscaloosa27145465
Montgomery26119627
Baldwin25207329
Lee17184181
Calhoun15382334
Morgan15147291
Etowah14928370
Marshall13079235
Houston12021293
Elmore10890219
St. Clair10737252
Limestone10699158
Cullman10503205
Lauderdale10240254
DeKalb9498192
Talladega8935188
Walker7775288
Autauga7537114
Jackson7384117
Blount7352139
Colbert6691142
Coffee6342132
Dale5605117
Russell478943
Chilton4763117
Covington4738125
Franklin456681
Tallapoosa4511156
Escambia439283
Chambers3936125
Dallas3742163
Clarke370563
Marion3455107
Pike332079
Lawrence3257100
Winston298373
Bibb289765
Geneva282883
Marengo262267
Barbour250661
Pickens245262
Butler240172
Hale235178
Fayette226765
Henry212845
Monroe201541
Randolph200344
Cherokee198848
Washington184339
Macon169752
Crenshaw167758
Clay165659
Cleburne161145
Lamar150938
Lowndes145355
Wilcox132331
Bullock126542
Conecuh120632
Coosa118129
Perry110328
Sumter110333
Greene99137
Choctaw64425
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