President Barack Obama has offered House Speaker John Boehner, a Catholic, a trip to the Vatican.
The speaker, immersed in budget talks, has declined.
Plus, the prime minister of Ireland is coming to Washington for St. Patrick’s Day-centered festivities.
Pope Francis may be getting his formal investiture in Rome, but Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny is going to the White House on Tuesday for the annual Shamrock ceremony that dates to Harry Truman’s days and a St. Patrick’s Day (two days later) luncheon at the Capitol.
Obama plans to join the Taoiseach at the Capitol luncheon.
Yet Boehner will not be joining Vice President Joe Biden, the nation’s highest ranking Catholic politician, in Rome.
“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,” the speaker said today in a statement released by his office. “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.”
Mark Silva contributed to this report.