Senators started to assemble at the doors of the Senate chamber by 9 a.m. Thursday, just ahead of Pope Francis' address to Congress, taking place across the Capitol.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., grinned for a cellphone photo snapped by Senate Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., as the lawmakers awaited the arrival of Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. "Center seat for Catholics," joked Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who squeezed to the front of the line next to Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md. Most of the chamber's women gave their tickets to nuns, Mikulski told CQ Roll Call as she steered her guest toward the Rotunda.
"It's Jesuit time, not Irish time," Mikulski barbed Biden, as the Catholic former senator from Delaware started shouldering his way to the door to lead the senators to the House chamber.
A confused Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, jumped into the crowd near the Ohio Clock. Risch asked a Capitol Police officer if the group was headed toward the gallery or the chamber.
Bringing up the rear, Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., clipped out of the chamber in boots about 30 seconds after a stream of staffers. The Mormon senator smiled to reporters as he headed toward the House.
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