House Delegation Plans Journey to Rome for Installation of Pope Francis

Billy House
March 15, 2013

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is going somewhere next week that Speaker John Boehner says he cannot because of congressional work: She will join Vice President Joe Biden to attend the installation of the new Pope in Rome.

Boehner declined the invitation to travel with Biden for the inauguration mass on Tuesday of Argentina’s Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis, although he said Friday that the House will be sending its own bipartisan delegation of members. As for himself, the Ohio Republican said in a statement Thursday that his duties in the House next week -- including hosting President Obama and the prime minister of Ireland at the Capitol on Tuesday, and the debate on the budget – “make that impossible.”

On Friday, Pelosi’s office and the White House announced the California Democrat will be going to Italy. She will be part of a delegation that includes Biden, New Mexico Gov. Susan Martinez, and George DeGioia, president of Georgetown University.

While Boehner is not going, he announced on Friday a separate House delegation to the Vatican.

The group will be led by Rep. Chris Smith , R-N.J., and also include Reps. Rosa DeLauro , D-Conn.,  Sean Duffy, R-Wis., Anna Eshoo, D-Calif.,  Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., Ruben Hinojosa, D-Texas, Jim Langevin, D-R.I., Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill., and Loretta Sanchez , D-Calif. Joing the delegation will be Fr. Patrick Conroy, S.J., the House chaplain.

Boehner said the delegation will fly to Rome on commercial air flights, in compliance with the speaker’s directive that members' use of military air transportation be suspended with sequestration in effect. 

“The installation of Pope Francis, the first Holy Father ever to hail from the Americas, is a milestone in world history and an event of monumental significance to the millions of Americans who share in the Catholic faith,”  Boehner said in a statement.  “I’m pleased Congressman Smith and this bipartisan group of members will join the vice president in communicating the prayers and warm regards of the American people to Pope Francis as he begins his papacy.”

President Obama will be among those at the Capitol on Tuesday at the Friends of Ireland luncheon that Boehner will host. The House is also is planning to hold a vote next week on the latest budget put forth by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., which was approved by the committee this week.