WASHINGTON — The Rev. Patrick Conroy was sworn back in Tuesday as the chaplain of the House of Representatives, less than a week after he decided to rescind his resignation.
Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., who had originally requested that Conroy step down, administered the oath around noon on the House floor after meeting Tuesday morning with Conroy ahead of a closed-door meeting with the House Republican Conference. Conroy declined to comment on their meeting to NBC News and suggested asking Ryan for a reaction.
“Father Pat and I had a good cup of coffee this morning,” Ryan told reporters at a news conference Tuesday. “We talked about how to improve the services going forward. We are going to keep talking to make sure. … I think we can ultimately make improvements so that everyone has access to the pastoral services they’re looking for.”
Conroy spoke by phone to Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., after his morning meeting with Ryan, and Crowley told NBC News that he was “appreciative of" Conroy being re-sworn in.
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But members from both parties still have questions about why Ryan asked Conroy to leave his position.
“He should’ve never been removed in the first place,” said Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., adding that Ryan shouldn’t have asked Conroy to step down in the first place. "To me, there’s still unanswered questions.”
King said that he never heard any evidence of Conroy not doing his job properly.
Crowley said, “I think there is left, and fair enough and objectively, a lot of unanswered questions and simply a reinstating or a re-swearing does not answer any of the questions."
Conroy, a Jesuit priest, delivered the prayer Monday when the House gaveled back into session after a weeklong recess.
“As the members return to Washington, may they be encouraged and empowered by their constituents to be their best selves in serving in the people’s House,” Conroy said then. “May the disagreements that seem to perjure give way to good faith efforts to find solutions to the issues facing our nation in a manner consistent with the great traditions of our republican form of government.”
Last Thursday, Ryan reversed himself and said that Conroy could keep his job of seven years. The speaker’s decision came after Conroy said that he was retracting his resignation in a letter. His last day initially was supposed to be May 24.
In a letter to Ryan, Conroy wrote he had “never been disciplined, nor reprimanded, nor have I ever heard a complaint about my ministry during my time as House chaplain” and also claimed that Ryan’s chief of staff, Jonathan Burks, told him when asked why he was being let go “something like, 'maybe it’s time that we had a chaplain that wasn’t a Catholic.'”
"To be clear, that decision was based on my duty to ensure that the House has the kind of pastoral services that it deserves," Ryan said last week. "It is my job as speaker to do what is best for this body, and I know that this body is not well served by a protracted fight over such an important post."
Ryan's move to push Conroy out set off a firestorm among lawmakers on Capitol Hill. By last Friday, more than 100 House members had signed a letter to Ryan demanding an explanation for his decision to ask for Conroy's resignation.
Then-Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, nominated Conroy as chaplain in May 2011, in consultation with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and he was sworn in that month.