Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is under fire on Friday after it was reported he forced out House Chaplain Patrick Conroy from his post, allegedly over a recent prayer that called for—get this—a fairer tax code.
According to The Hill, which first reported the story, Conroy makes it clear in his resignation announcement, which came last week but was not revealed until Thursday, that it was submitted at the behest of Ryan.
"As you have requested, I hereby offer my resignation as the 60th Chaplain of the United States House of Representatives," Conroy's letter to the Speaker reads. Conroy has been the chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives since 2011.
While an aide to Ryan told one reporter that Conroy was not asked to resign over any one specific prayer, Democratic lawmakers are demanding more answers.
Dear @SpeakerRyan: The House Chaplain is for the entire House of Representatives, not you personally. So if you fire him, you need to give House Members your reason for doing so. https://t.co/WNh55leDxd
— Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) April 27, 2018
Ryan, of course, has made a career out of using using a choir boy facade and faux budgetary genius to mesmerize the press while doing everything possible to enrich the already wealthy and attack the poor and working class. But as Margaret Hartmann writes for New York Magazine, "Under the Trump administration, we've learned that [Ryan] is willing to shrug off racist remarks from the president, and has no problem enabling attacks on the rule of law. But one thing that will not be tolerated in Ryan's House is a man of God suggesting that tax cuts should be fair to all Americans."
The accusation that Conroy was ousted over a prayer he delivered in November of 2017—in which he hoped that the result of the GOP tax bill then being debated would "guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans"—has not been confirmed, but reporting from Capitol Hill suggests the prayer was upsetting to Ryan. Vanity Fair reports:
While one source claimed that "some of the more conservative evangelical Republicans didn't like that the Father had invited a Muslim person to give the opening prayer," others offered a more compelling reason: Ryan "took issue with a prayer on the House floor that could have been perceived as being critical of the G.O.P. tax cut bill." According to a Democratic aide, Conroy's ouster was "largely driven by [the] speech on the tax bill that the speaker didn’t like." AshLee Strong, a spokesperson for the speaker, declined to explain the personnel decision, noting only Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and her office "were fully read in and did not object."
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While Ryan announced earlier this month he would not seek re-election for his seat, that did not keep Randy Bryce, one of the progressive Democrats who had thrown his hat in the right to unseat the powerful Republican in Wisconsin, from pointing out how representative this kind of behavior would be for both Ryan and the GOP more broadly:
BREAKING: Paul Ryan just fired House Chaplain Patrick Conroy after Conroy reminded Congress to think of the poor during the tax debate.
This is Paul Ryan's legacy. Party over country. https://t.co/V4DPi2Zx0W
— Randy Bryce (@IronStache) April 26, 2018
But Bryce was hardly alone in his condemnation of Ryan:
No one said Paul Ryan was going to finish on a high note. https://t.co/wxChZ4hvms
— John Nichols (@NicholsUprising) April 27, 2018
Paul Ryan seeking out cold revenge against a Jesuit priest who said a few words Ryan didn't like is the most on-the-nose story about Paul Ryan that I've heard since he admitted to fantasizing about killing Medicaid during his college keg parties.
— Ian Millhiser (@imillhiser) April 27, 2018
— Elizabeth de la Vega (@Delavegalaw) April 27, 2018