President Barack Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, held a brief one-on-one meeting Wednesday following the president's get-together with the full House Republicans Conference, and now the speaker's office has revealed what they discussed.
Obama invited Boehner to join Vice President Joseph R. Biden at the Vatican to celebrate the installment of the new pope. Biden is leading the U.S. delegation. Boehner has respectfully declined, according to a statement released this morning.
“I am grateful for the invitation to attend the papal investiture in Rome with Vice President Biden, and would like to be able to join the trip. Unfortunately, my duties in the House next week — including hosting President Obama and the Prime Minister of Ireland at the Capitol on Tuesday, and the debate on the budget — make that impossible. I wish the Vice President all the best in his journey, and hope he communicates the prayers and warm regards of every American, especially Catholics, to the first pope from the Americas.”
As David Hawkings noted on Wednesday, the Codel to the Vatican could shorten next week's legislative week on the Hill and there is likely to be intense internal lobbying for slots on the year's most prestigious congressional trip.