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House delegation flying commercial to Papal installation

Vice President Biden won't be the only American pol at the Vatican on Tuesday for the official installation mass of Pope Francis. At least nine House lawmakers also plan to attend the big event, but they'll have to depend on commercial aircraft to get there.

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) announced Friday that he's tapped Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) to lead a 10-member delegation to the mass. Boehner politely declined an invitation from the White House to join Biden's official U.S. delegation, saying that he had to stay in Washington to host festivities Tuesday with President Obama and Enda Kenny, the Irish Taoiseach, who will visit for annual St. Patrick's Day events.

Smith will be joined by 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.). Catholic Fr. Patrick J. Conroy, the House Chaplain, will join the lawmakers on the trip, according to Boehner's office.

"The House delegation will fly to Rome on commercial air flights, in compliance with the Speaker’s directive that Member use of military air transportation be suspended with sequestration in effect," Boehner's office said in a statement.

As part of the automatic spending cuts, House lawmakers must seek permission from Boehner to use military aircraft on overseas trips, including trips to visit U.S. military service members in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The White House said Friday that Biden's delegation to Vatican City will include House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R) and John J. DeGioia, the president of Georgetown University.

Follow Ed O'Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

Ed O’Keefe is covering the 2016 presidential campaign, with a focus on Jeb Bush and other Republican candidates. He's covered presidential and congressional politics since 2008. Off the trail, he's covered Capitol Hill, federal agencies and the federal workforce, and spent a brief time covering the war in Iraq.



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