Congressional picnic canceled

The White House has canceled the annual picnic for members of Congress.

Instead of the outdoors event, members will be able to bring their family to the White House holiday ball. Historically, members attend that event without their family. 

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"The 2013 Congressional Picnic has been canceled," a White House aide said. "The president and Mrs. Obama look forward to welcoming Members of Congress and their immediate families at the Congressional Holiday Ball in December."

The aide said more details on the ball would come later. 

The White House had delayed the picnic earlier this summer. The event typically takes place in mid-to-late June, when lawmakers’ children are out of school and families have more flexibility to make the trip. 

Officials insisted the earlier delay of the picnic was not related to the budget cuts from sequestration, which led the White House to cancel tours earlier this year.

According to The Associated Press, the picnic was canceled for good last week when members of Congress seemed poised to vote on a resolution authorizing the use of force in Syria. Since then Syria —with the pressure of its Russia ally — has expressed a willingness to hand over its chemical weapons stockpile to the international community. 

During the retreat with lawmakers in 2012, Obama summed up the event as one to bring members together to acknowledge the sacrifice lawmakers make to their family. 

“So we’re thrilled that you have at least one day where you got a chance to be together in Washington and nobody is arguing,” he said at the time.