23 members of Congress attending Mandela memorial service in S. Africa

December 9, 2013

(Photo by Michelly Rall/Getty Images)

At least 23 federal lawmakers are traveling to South Africa to attend a memorial service for the country's former leader Nelson Mandela, who died last week at age 95.

The service will be held Tuesday in Johannesburg at a soccer stadium that can hold roughly 95,000 people.

A government aircraft carrying 22 members of the House and one U.S. senator departed from Andrews Air Force Base on Monday morning, ahead of Air Force One, which is carrying President and Michelle Obama, former president George W. Bush and Laura Bush and former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton, according to the White House.

Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) has been tapped to lead the official congressional delegation on behalf of House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio).

“I have always had great respect for former president Mandela," Schock said Sunday in a statement. "The personal sacrifices he made in order to achieve what was right for the people of South Africa is something I carry with me every day. I am humbled to be leading so many of my colleagues in tribute to Nelson Mandela."

Boehner said in a statement Sunday that he is "grateful" that Schock is leading the delegation.

Schock is one of two Republicans traveling as part of a delegation dominated by members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including its chairman, Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio), and other senior members, including Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) and John Lewis (D-Ga). Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) is the other Republican and the only senator joining the trip.

Additional congressional lawmakers may opt to attend other events paying tribute to Mandela in South Africa scheduled for this week. Some aides have suggested that the Senate may try to adjourn for the year by Friday to allow senators to attend the official state funeral over the weekend.

Here is a list of the congressional delegation, provided by House aides: Republicans Rep. Aaron Schock and Sen. Ted Cruz; Democrats Dels. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.) and Donna Christensen (V.I.); and Democratic Reps. Marcia Fudge, John Conyers (Mich.), Charles Rangel (N.Y.), John Lewis, Jim McDermott (Wash.), Maxine Waters (Calif.), Bobby Scott (Va.), Mel Watt (N.C.), Sheila Jackson-Lee (Tex.), Elijah Cummings (Md.), Gregory Meeks (N.Y.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), G. K. Butterfield (N.C.), Gene Green (Tex.), Gwen Moore (Wis.), Yvette Clarke (N.Y.), Karen Bass (Calif.), Joyce Beatty (Ohio) and Terri Sewell (Ala.).

Ed O’Keefe is a congressional reporter with The Washington Post and covered the 2008 and 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
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