Congressional delegations head to Normandy commemoration

 


A British World War II veteran reacts as he visits a war cemetery in France on June 4, two days before the start of the D-Day commemorations. (Jean-Sebastien Evrard/AFP/Getty Images)

The weather can be iffy in Normandy this time of year, but the forecast now calls for a beautiful day Friday — partly cloudy and highs around 77 — for the 70th anniversary of the landing that began the drive to liberate Western Europe from the grip of Nazi Germany.

There will be a huge international crowd, with a congressional contingent that will include Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Tex.), who was a U.S. Navy lieutenant during the war and is one of only two WWII veterans in the House. The other is Michigan Democratic Rep. John Dingell. (Since Dingell’s retiring and Hall lost his GOP primary last month, there will be no vets from that war left in the House.)

The nine-member Senate delegation is co-chaired by Sens. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and includes Democratic Sens. Robert Casey (Pa.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Michael Bennet (Colo.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.) and Mazie Hirono (Hawaii.), our Capitol Hill colleague Ed O’Keefe tells us. We’ve learned several spouses are going along.

The House delegation is chaired by House Armed Service Committee Chair Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) and minority leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)

Given that this is a solemn and respectable if not mandatory trip, it is unclear why our request for a list of House members who were going was rejected. (Not all members are keeping the secret. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Tex.) told his local newspaper he’s on the trip.)

Pelosi’s office late Wednesday released the Democrats joining her: Reps. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), Carolyn B. Maloney (N.Y.), Sheila Jackson Lee (Tex.), Ruben Hinojosa (Tex.), Loretta Sanchez (Calif.), Michael Capuano (Mass.), Susan A. Davis (Calif.), Daniel Lipinski (Ill.) Hank Johnson (Ga.), Carol Shea-Porter (N.H.), David Cicilline (R.I.) and Janice Hahn (Calif.).

We’re still awaiting word on GOP attendees.

We heard they were taking two planes, which, if true, suggests a large crowd. Also unclear is how many spouses are going. A House source said it was a fairly evenly split, bipartisan group of 25 members.

Both sets of lawmakers are flying Thursday afternoon for Paris. They’ll have 4-hour bus rides on gridlocked roads from there to the coast. The senators are returning Saturday. House members are sensibly staying a second night in Paris, returning Sunday.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.
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