Speaker Paul Ryan came under fire on Friday for his firing of the House chaplain — with multiple lawmakers on both sides of the aisle calling the decision “bewildering” and “unjust.”
“It is such an unprecedented action to only be taken for very, very serious issues,” Rep. Peter King, of New York, told CNN of the chaplain’s removal.
The congressman was one of at least two Republicans who grilled the House Speaker over the April 16 axing of Rev. Pat Conroy following a morning caucus meeting — in which Ryan reportedly gave an explanation for his actions.
“To me it was an unsatisfactory answer,” King explained. “The speaker said it was just because certain people said [Conroy] was not complying with their request or was not giving good counsel. I never heard that from anyone. Anyone who I know who deals with him has the highest regard for him.”
House Democrats — led by Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY) — also criticized Conroy’s firing and tried to force a vote on Friday to establish a panel to investigate, according to NPR.
The motion was tabled, though, by Republicans.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Friday that she told Ryan about Conroy’s exemplary track record and that she disagreed with his decision.
“His abrupt, unjust dismissal is hard to understand and impossible to support,” Pelosi wrote in a statement.
“It is truly sad that [Ryan] made this decision, and it is especially bewildering that he did so only a matter of months before the end of his term,” she said. “The Speaker did this knowing that he had no power to fire Father Conroy and instead chose to force him out by demanding his resignation.”
Ryan’s office announced Conroy’s resignation on April 16, but his forced removal wasn’t revealed until this week.
“As chaplain, Father Conroy has been a great source of strength and support to our community,” Ryan claimed. “He is deeply admired by members and staff. Father Conroy’s ministry here has made a difference, and we are all very grateful to him.”
The speaker says he plans to consult with Pelosi “in the coming weeks” on a chaplain successor.
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