The vote, which was part of a procedural measure, excludes former members of Congress and former House officers and chaplains from attending the papal address. Those allowed to attend include: members of Congress, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, Supreme Court justices, current House officers, the librarian of Congress, architect of the Capitol and department heads. The vote also approved of “other persons as designated by the Speaker.”
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, invited the pope and requested the vote to limit the audience. Emily Schillinger, a spokeswoman for Boehner’s office, said there is “a tremendous amount of interest in the pope’s visit and we are working to ensure as many people as possible can attend.”
She said the vote was “to make sure that attendance at the joint meeting does not exceed the capacity of the chamber to hold a safe and dignified event.”
The House Chamber, where bills are introduced, debated, and voted on and where the president’s State of the Union address and joint sessions and meeting of the House and Senate are held, has more than 440 permanent seats and temporary seats are added for events when necessary.
Former members of Congress who are shut out from the House Chamber could see the pope’s address right outside since it will be broadcast live on Jumbotron screens on the West Front of the Capitol. Boehner also announced this summer that Pope Francis has “expressed an interest in making a brief appearance on the West Front.”
Ticket allotment and distribution information for the telecast was scheduled to be released July 30.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103