House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) blasted House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) Friday for abruptly dismissing House Chaplain Rev. Patrick Conroy, calling the firing “unwarranted,” “hard to understand” and “impossible to support.”
“It is my hope that we will honor Father Conroy’s service by pursuing justice and making clear the true motivations of this unjust action,” she said in a statement. “I have expressed my forceful disagreement with this decision to the Speaker. It is truly sad that he made this decision, and it is especially bewildering that he did so only a matter of months before the end of his term.”
Ryan’s office reportedly disputes Pelosi’s claim that she was outraged by the firing when he made the decision in mid-April. A spokeswoman for Ryan said that Pelosi was passive when she first heard the decision. “While it was the speaker’s decision, she and her office were fully read in, and did not object,” AshLee Strong said to the Washington Post.
Pelosi denies that claim. In her statement, she also expressed support for the motion from Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) brought to the floor on Friday to establish a special committee to investigate the firing. The motion was killed by Republicans, with only two defecting to vote with the Democrats.
Early Friday morning, Ryan held a meeting with House Republicans where he assured them that the dismissal was not politically motivated, though some speculate that it was prompted by a prayer Conroy said on the day that the House was marking up the GOP tax bill. He prayed that the bill would not create “winners and losers” but that its benefits be “balanced and shared by all.”