By Al Kamen
The Washington Post
WASHINGTON — That delegation of lawmakers who went to the Vatican to welcome the new pope may not have traveled in the style to which members of Congress are accustomed — but at least they didn't have to shell out for their own tickets.
Under post-sequester rules announced by Speaker John Boehner, House members must fly commercial instead of taking military aircraft for overseas trips — and they have to pay for the privilege of having no legroom and eating gummy in-flight food out of their own office budgets or out of their committee's purse.
But this trip got a bit of special treatment. We're told that lawmakers attending it did not, in fact, have to dip into their own personal office budgets to buy tickets. Good thing, because a round-trip flight to Rome, on relatively short notice, can be pricey.
Instead, the trip was paid for from a State Department account used for such official outings.
The group, led by Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., also included Reps. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., Jeff Fortenberry, R-Neb., Ruben Hinojosa, D-Texas, Jim Langevin, D-R.I., Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., and Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., and the House chaplain, the Rev. Patrick Conroy.
Still, alas, the merry band of lawmakers had to fly commercial rather than in the miljets they know and love. So much for a posh Roman holiday.
Hillaryland no more
The foreign policy fulcrum has tilted sharply to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue as the Clinton-Gates era shifts to the Kerry-Hagel period.
Four years ago, as the incoming secretary of state, Hillary Clinton cut a deal with President Obama giving her virtually complete control over hiring scores of her top aides — not just her outer-office team — thus protecting her extensive campaign network. Foggy Bottom was Hillaryland.