“I do,” said Conroy, a Catholic priest.
Conroy tendered a letter of resignation on April 15 after Ryan’s chief of staff, Jonathan Burks, asked him to step down two days earlier. But it was another two weeks before it became publicly known that Conroy’s signature was coerced — for reasons, in Conroy’s telling, that had nothing to do with the reasons Ryan publicly gave.
Ryan cited a lack of “pastoral services” as the prime reason for the change, but numerous other lawmakers said they had never heard such complaints about Conroy’s performance and instead speculated his dismissal reflected either on the perceived political content of some of Conroy’s prayers or the anti-Catholic sentiment of some evangelical Christian lawmakers.
Burks, in Conroy’s telling, told him “maybe it’s time that we had a chaplain that wasn’t a Catholic.” Burks disputes that account.
On Thursday, Conroy sent a letter to Ryan saying that he had been asked to step down under false pretenses and rescinded his resignation. Ryan agreed on the same day to reinstate Conroy. Because Conroy’s resignation, effective May 24, had already been accepted and read into the House record, Ryan has to swear him in anew on Tuesday.
Ryan and Conroy met Tuesday morning to clear the air, and Ryan told reporters shortly afterward that “we’re going to keep talking” and “I feel good about where things are.”
“We talked about how to improve the services going forward,” he said. “I think we can ultimately make improvements so that everyone has access to the pastoral service they’re looking for.”
In his letter Thursday, Conroy said that he had never been told such “pastoral services” were lacking.
“[N]o such criticism has ever been leveled against me during my tenure as House Chaplain,” he wrote. “At the very least, if it were, I could have attempted to correct such ‘faults.’ In retracting my resignation I wish to do just that.”
The issue did not fade away entirely after Conroy’s re-swearing-in Tuesday, one last bit of drama played out on the House floor as Democrats forced, for a second time, a vote to establish a select committee to investigate the motives behind the initial attempt to oust Conroy.
After Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) offered the resolution and the vote started, Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) walked across the chamber and started yelling at Crowley, accusing him of politicizing the issue.
Crowley yelled back and started waving his finger in MacArthur’s face accusing Republicans of politicizing the issue to begin with, as aides and lawmakers remained standing between the two. Each lawmaker walked a little bit away from each other down the aisle, only to turn back and continue yelling at each other, for about minute.
The gambit failed, with 223 Republicans voting to kill Crowley’s proposal for an investigation. One Republican, Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), joined with the 181 Democrats who supported a probe.
Before his swearing in Tuesday, Conroy offered a prayer upon the opening of the House.
“Loving and gracious God,” he began, “we give you thanks for giving us another day.”