Biden taking Pelosi, N.M. governor to papal inauguration

Vice President Joe Biden gestures as he speaks at the Winter-Spring meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, in Washington.
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Vice President Joe Biden is taking one Democrat, one Republican and one university leader -- all Roman Catholics -- on his trip to the Vatican next week to watch the inaugural Mass of Pope Francis, the White House announced today.

Gov. Susana Martinez, R-N.M.; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Georgetown University President John DeGioia will join Biden for the Tuesday Mass. The White House announced earlier this week that Biden, America's first Catholic vice president and the highest ranking Catholic official in the country, would lead the delegation to the Vatican.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, also Catholic, was invited to join the delegation, but he declined the invitation because of prior commitments, including hosting President Obama and the Prime Minister of Ireland at the Capitol.

Though Boehner will not attend, he announced today he is sending a bipartisan congressional delegation to witness the Mass with the vice president. Led by Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., the group includes 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.

The congressional delegation will fly to Rome on commercial flights, since Boehner suspended the use of military air transportation for members of Congress due to sequestration.