But this trip got a bit of special treatment. We’re told that lawmakers attending it did not, in fact, have to dip into their own personal office budgets to buy tickets. Good thing, because a round-trip flight to Rome, on relatively short notice, can be pricey.
Instead, the trip was paid for from a State Department account used for such official outings.
The group, led by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), also included Reps. Robert Aderholt (R-Ala.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.), Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), Ruben Hinojosa (D-Tex.), Jim Langevin (D-R.I.), Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) and Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) and the House chaplain, the Rev. Patrick Conroy.
Still, alas, the merry band of lawmakers had to fly commercial rather than in the miljets they know and love. So much for a posh Roman holiday.
Hillaryland no more
The foreign policy fulcrum has tilted sharply to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as the Clinton-Gates era shifts to the Kerry-Hagel period.
Four years ago, as the incoming secretary of state, Hillary Clinton cut a deal with President Obama giving her virtually complete control over hiring scores of her top aides — not just her outer-office team — thus protecting her extensive campaign network. Foggy Bottom was Hillaryland.
In contrast, Secretary of State John Kerry has so far brought in perhaps half a dozen or so of “his” top people. We’re told there are still a fair number of Kerry’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee staff members who would dearly love to move to State — they’re just awaiting a call.
But if Kerry does offer them jobs, those folks — and any named by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel — will be subjected to the hairy eyeball by the White House personnel people.
They rarely vetoed a Hillary pick. We know of only one example, though obviously there may have been others. And Gates, of course, already had his team in place. But Team Obama folks are branching out.
, despite a stint on the 2004 Kerry campaign, is far more identified for her Obama ties, having senior press jobs in both his presidential runs and as deputy White House communications director.
And Steve Krupin, Kerry’s new chief speechwriter, was the Obama reelection campaign’s chief speechwriter. He’d been Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s press secretary and worked press in Florida for Obama in 2008.
Meanwhile, insiders are watching to see what happens to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice’s deputy if, as expected, she becomes national security adviser later this year.