Bradley Byrne

Opinion: A New Religious Schism — What’s the Chaplain’s Job?
Lawmakers need to leave politics out of the job

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

When Rev. Patrick J. Conroy was preparing to take over as House Chaplain in 2011 after being appointed by Speaker John Boehner, the Jesuit priest told The New York Times that he readied himself, in part, by reading “American Lion,” Jon Meacham’s biography of President Andrew Jackson. Conroy told the Times that reading about the vicious rivalry between Jackson and Henry Clay in Congress showed him that “it’s not an unprecedented thing in American politics for there to be recriminations and a lack of civility.”

That much has always been true. But what is unprecedented, seven years after Conroy accepted the job, is that the House chaplain himself is now at the center of the recriminations and lack of civility in Congress that he once sought to counsel members beyond. For the first time in history, the House chaplain has been asked to resign and nobody seems to know why.

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.

Lawmakers Push for Sexual Harassment Bill in Spending Package
Bipartisan coalition, Speaker want legislation included in omnibus

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wisc., left, and House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., arrive to hold a press conference following the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on Tuesday, March 20, 2018. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House Republicans and Democrats are making a last-minute bid to add legislation that would address the sexual harassment of staffers by members of Congress on the omnibus appropriations bill.

With dozens of policy issues still in flux as part of the full-year fiscal 2018 spending package, some lawmakers are upset by indications a bill that would implement robust sexual harassment policies in Congress is currently not part of the omnibus. The House passed the anti-sexual harassment measure, as well as sweeping rules changes aimed at protecting staffers, by voice vote on Feb. 6.

Paul Ryan Yields to Trump on High-Profile Issues
Speaker hedges on omnibus, sexual harassment, tariffs

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., closes the door as he prepares to hold a press conference following the House Republican Conference meeting in the Capitol on Tuesday. Also pictured, from left, are Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Republican Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Speaker Paul D. Ryan laughed Tuesday when a reporter asked him if he thinks President Donald Trump should stop attacking special counsel Robert S. Mueller III. 

“The special counsel should be free to follow through with his investigation to its completion without interference, absolutely,” Ryan said. “I am confident that he’ll be able to do that. I’ve received assurances that his firing is not even under consideration.”

Opinion: Sexual Harassment Legislation Breaks With Glacial Pace on Capitol Hill
Success often comes down to seizing the moment

California Rep. Jackie Speier is flanked by her staffers Molly Fishman, left, and Miriam Goldstein. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Like most Hill staffers, we came here with a dream of making a difference and quickly realized that the wheels of change grind at a glacial pace in Congress. It’s certainly not a secret, but until you become part of the process, it’s hard to understand just how painful it can be.

You can imagine our elation at finally seeing our dream realized last week, when the House of Representatives passed two pieces of legislation that will radically alter the way Congress prevents and responds to harassment and discrimination in the congressional workplace.

House GOP Plan Likely to Set Up Funding Bill Volley with Senate
House Democrats retreat may fall victim to latest funding strategy

Republican Study Committee Chairman Mark Walker said the plan to fully fund the Defense Department through the end of fiscal 2018 while keeping the remaining agencies running on a stopgap schedule was “the right move.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

House Republican leaders on Monday finally agreed to execute a government funding strategy conservatives and defense hawks have been pushing for months: fully fund the Department of Defense through the end of fiscal 2018 while keep the remaining agencies running through a fifth a stopgap measure.

The play call in advance of the Feb. 8 government funding deadline all but assures a volley with the Senate, which is expected to reject the House GOP measure.

Train Carrying GOP Lawmakers to Retreat Hits Truck
Reports: At least one dead, others injured

Emergency personnel work at the scene of a train crash involving a garbage truck in Crozet, Va., on Wednesday. An Amtrak passenger train carrying dozens of GOP lawmakers to a Republican retreat in West Virginia struck a garbage truck south of Charlottesville, Va. No lawmakers were believed injured. (Zack Wajsgrasu/The Daily Progress via AP)

Updated 2:51 p.m. | A train transporting Republican lawmakers to the GOP retreat in West Virginia was involved in an accident with a truck late Wednesday morning.

Representatives were seen attending to injured people from the truck, according to a source on the train. At least one person was reported dead. 

No Shortage of Agenda Items for GOP Retreat
Funding, immigration and 2018 among items to discuss

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and his Republican colleagues will have plenty to discuss at this year’s retreat in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

House and Senate Republicans head to West Virginia on Wednesday for the annual GOP retreat, leaving Washington even as high-profile negotiations on immigration and government funding remain unresolved.

While those topics are expected to come up during the gathering at the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, they could take a back seat to other agenda items such as infrastructure, defense and workforce development.

Critics Point to Problems With Sexual Harassment Bill
Measure is intended to create more protections for Hill staffers

People rally against sexual harassment outside Trump International Hotel on Dec. 9 in New York City. (Stephanie Keith/Getty Images file photo)

A bipartisan measure meant to increase protections for congressional employees who complain of sexual harassment and other workplace discrimination could make the process more cumbersome and less transparent, experts on employment law and advocates for victims and government transparency said this week.

Critics agree that the 23-year-old Congressional Accountability Act is long overdue for reform. But they said this one — expected to get broad support when it comes before the House as early as next week — could introduce more problems than it solves, possibly because it was compiled in a rush to respond to the #MeToo movement and the resulting wave of sexual harassment allegations in American institutions.

Republicans’ Schumer Poster Rankles Dems, Prompts Decorum Vote
GOP lawmakers used it as a prop to blame minority leader for shutdown

This poster depicting Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer contributed to partisan tensions  Saturday — and a vote on whether it violated House decorum rules.

Partisan tensions were so high on the first day of the government shutdown that a House Democrat forced the chamber to vote on the question of whether a GOP poster depicting Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer violated House decorum rules.

The poster pictured Schumer with a comment he made in 2013 saying that a government shutdown “is the politics of idiocy, of confrontation, of paralysis.” Republicans were using it as a prop as they gave floor speeches seeking to cast blame on Senate Democrats for the “Schumer shutdown.”