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Congress is going through one of those times when everything seems to be changing, especially the personnel, and that’s not even counting the mounting pile of retirements and resignations among lawmakers.
On Monday, House Chaplain Patrick J. Conroy, a Jesuit priest, announced he would be leaving his post, which he has held since 2011. That news came the same day Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Michael C. Stenger would be the new Senate sergeant-at-arms, replacing Frank J. Larkin.
The latest Political Theater Podcast discusses what folks like these do — Ed Pesce, the editor of CQ Senate, describes it as tending to lawmakers’ bodies, minds and spirits. Their influence reaches beyond their extensive ceremonial features, as recounted by a 2012 anecdote concerning Senate Chaplain Barry Black, who ministered to Sen. Daniel K. Inouye on the Hawaii Democrat’s deathbed at Walter Reed Army Hospital.
Listen to the podcast here:
Take This Job and …
The retirements and resignations, they just keep coming.
It was just last week that Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., announced he would not run for re-election, setting off a leadership scramble and questions about his seat back home. Comes now Rep. Charlie Dent, R-Pa., who had announced last year he would not run for re-election and then on Tuesday said, you know, I don’t need to be here much longer. He expects to resign his seat sometime in May.
That could set off a special election in Pennsylvania (Didn’t we just have one of those?) Or not. Depends on the timing and the governor. And it would be for the district Dent currently represents, which is going bye-bye because the state Supreme Court declared the current congressional map an unconstitutional gerrymander. So a special election would be for a seat that won’t exist but for a few more months, even as the Democrats and Republicans vying to replace him next year are running for a differently apportioned district.
Clear as mud.
Of Rattlesnakes and Men
Speaking of that announcement by the speaker, we feel compelled to point out that it kind of overshadowed the retirement announcement of Rep. Dennis A. Ross, R-Fla., the same day.
Elected in the tea party wave in 2010, Ross will always be, to us, the congressman with a stuffed rattlesnake in his office.
The Capitol community bade farewell, formally, to two fixtures this week.
On Tuesday, members, his colleagues and friends gathered in the Members Room at the Library of Congress to memorialize onetime staffer Ed Lorenzen, who was a senior aide to House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., and former Rep. Charles W. Stenholm, D-Texas, and an old hand in budget circles. Lorenzen and his son died in a tragic house fire in January, shocking those who knew him.
Then on Wednesday, Congress and family gathered in Statuary Hall for the memorial service for Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, the trailblazing Democrat who was the first woman to chair the Rules Committee and whose Kentucky charm and New York sass won her friends and respect over more than three decades in Congress. Slaughter died last month after suffering a fall.