Emanuel Cleaver II

Ryan Makes First Public Comments on Chaplain Firing
‘This is not about politics or prayers. It was about pastoral services,’ speaker says

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., said his decision to fire House Chaplain Patrick J. Conroy was not about politics or prayers. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Speaker Paul D. Ryan on Monday made his first public comments on his decision to fire House Chaplain Patrick J. Conroy, repeating the rationale he provided in a closed-door House Republican Conference meeting Friday

“Father Conroy is a good man and I am grateful for his many years of service to the House,” the Wisconsin Republican said at the Weekly Standard’s Midwest Conservative Summit in Milwaukee. “This is not about politics or prayers. It was about pastoral services. And a number of our members felt like the pastoral services were not being adequately served or offered.”

Lawmakers Worried About Religious Freedom After Chaplain Ouster
Democrats raise questions about anti-Catholic sentiments from Republicans

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., said there’s only division coming out of Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s decision to fire House Chaplain Patrick J. Conroy. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Update 8:45 a.m. | A spokesman for Rep. Mark Walkertold USA Today that the congressman was stepping down from the group searching for a new House chaplain.

Emotions are running high in the House as members grapple with Speaker Paul D. Ryan’s decision to fire House Chaplain Patrick J. Conroy. And religious tensions started to spill into public view last week before lawmakers departed Washington for a one-week recess.

What is a House Chaplain and What do They Do?
Background of the job and what’s up with Rev. Patrick Conroy, explained

Rev. Patrick J. Conroy, chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives, blesses the walnut tree during the tree planting ceremony in memory of Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., on Wednesday, April 18, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Speaker Paul Ryan’s move against Rev. Patrick Conroy caused political ripples as many speculated he requested the Reverend’s retirement because of a prayer he gave before the tax code.

Conroy, Congress’s Jesuit Priest, is the first Chaplain to leave his 2-year elected position mid-term in decades.

Kaptur Exploring Legislative Reprieve for Ousted House Chaplain
Ohio Democrat said any legislation she proposes would be bipartisan

House Chaplain Patrick J. Conroy performs a marriage ceremony in 2015 for Alaska Rep. Don Young and Anne Garland Walton in the chapel of the U.S. Capitol. (CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Marcy Kaptur does not believe Speaker Paul D. Ryan has authority to remove House Chaplain Patrick J. Conroy without a vote of the House. And she’s exploring legislation to prevent his ouster. 

Conroy submitted a letter of resignation April 15 at the speaker’s request that was read on the House floor the following day. Ryan’s spokeswoman AshLee Strong confirmed that Ryan sought the Jesuit priest’s resignation but did not provide a reason why. 

Rep. Bobby Rush Faces Wage Garnishment on $1 Million Debt
Judge orders Chicago Dem to forfeit 15 percent of monthly congressional salary

Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., left, speaks with Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., while waiting for President Barack Obama to deliver his final State of the Union address to a Joint Session of Congress in Washington on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Rep. Bobby Rush will fork over 15 percent of his congressional salary each month to repay more than $1 million he owes on a delinquent loan for a now-closed church he founded in Chicago.

Rush makes $174,000 a year through his salary in the House of Representatives, where he has served for more than 25 years representing Chicago’s South Side.

One-Tenth of Congress Lists Student Loan Liabilities
‘I don’t understand how young people can become teachers or work in the public service arena’

California Rep. Mark Takano, a House Education member, is still paying back student loans for a 2010 master’s degree from UC Riverside. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The 115th Congress scored as one of the richest ever, but one in 10 lawmakers still holds student loan debt, either personally or for a family member. 

Fifty-three members listed a combined $1.8 million in student loans on their financial disclosures. Twenty-eight of them posted a positive net worth while 25 showed negative net worth in Roll Call’s comprehensive Wealth of Congress project.

Underdog Democrats Seize on Primary Opponents’ Gun History
A handful of challengers embrace gun control as a winning issue

Florida Rep. Al Lawson is facing criticism from a primary challenger over gun control. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

With gun rights groups mostly tied to the Republican Party these days, some underdog Democrats have turned to the gun issue to try to gain traction in primaries.

“We believe the race will turn on guns,” a campaign official with Florida Democrat Alvin Brown said in an email Tuesday.

Word on the Hill: Staffer Defends Her ‘Liddle’ Boss
Fitness trends, staffer shuffles, and a new book

Micah Johnson walks with her boss Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, center, as they get off the Senate subway in May 2016. Also pictured, North Carolina Sen. Richard M. Burr. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The president may be calling out lawmakers but congressional staffers have their bosses backs.

Micah Johnson, communications director for retiring Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who has been in a war of words with President Donald Trump, defended her boss when she tweeted a cartoon mocking the president.

Congressional Republicans Criticize Trump’s Comments About TV Anchor
President tweeted he turned down meeting as Mika Brzezinski was ‘bleeding badly from a face-lift’

Kansas Rep. Lynn Jenkins said President Donald Trump’s remarks about MSNBC host Mike Brzezinski were “not okay.” (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Updated 5:59 p.m. | Republican members of Congress criticized President Donald Trump for his comments about TV host Mika Brzezinski on Thursday.

Trump tweeted early in the day that he turned down a meeting with Brzezinski and her “Morning Joe” co-host Joe Scarborough because she was “bleeding badly from a face-lift.”

Six Who Could Succeed Pelosi — Someday
Ouster talk fades, but speculation continues about the next generation of House Democratic leaders

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi says she’s “very confident” she retains the support of most members of her Democratic Caucus. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

One week after House Democrats finished 0-for-4 in this special election season, their burst of frustration and pique vented toward Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi appears to have fizzled.

The vexation is not going to fade away altogether, however, and neither will the lawmakers’ whispered talk in the cloakrooms or after their nightly fundraisers about which of them has a plausible shot at someday becoming Pelosi’s successor.