Will Speaker move bill on the pope?

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A popular piece of legislation that seeks to honor Pope Francis is stuck in Congress.

With time running out on the Capitol Hill calendar, the lawmakers who crafted the bipartisan measure are getting impatient with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

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The resolution, written by Reps. John Larson (D-Conn.) and Pete King (R-N.Y.), congratulates Francis on his March 2013 election and recognizes “his inspirational statements and actions.”

The seemingly innocuous resolution was referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which hasn’t acted on it. The panel didn’t comment for this article.

The inaction and the lack of a white smoke signal from Boehner have sparked speculation that politics is at play.

Only 19 of the 221 co-sponsors are Republicans. The dearth of GOP members on the measure could be attributable to assertions that the pope is “too liberal,” according to a Republican backer of the legislation.

The source noted that Francis last year denounced “trickle-down economics.”

Some Republicans believe the pope is “sounding like [President] Obama. [The pope] talks about equality — he actually used the term ‘trickle-down economics,’ which is politically charged,” the GOP official said.

In March, the pope raised some eyebrows when he indicated an openness to civil unions. He stressed, however, that he strongly supports the church’s teaching that “marriage is between a man and a woman.”

Larson on Friday sent a letter to Boehner requesting a vote. 

In the letter, obtained by The Hill, Larson highlighted Boehner’s open invitation to Francis to address a joint meeting of Congress. 

“To my knowledge this would be an historic first. I ask that you take a look at a bipartisan resolution introduced by Representative Peter King and myself, acknowledging the first Pope from the Americas ... it is my sincere hope that you will consider this resolution for the suspension calendar for a vote,” Larson wrote. 

Like Boehner, Larson and King are Catholic.

Other co-sponsors of the measure include Reps. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.).

Five of the 19 Republican co-sponsors hail from Boehner’s home state of Ohio.

In a statement accompanying his official invitation to the Vatican, Boehner extolled Francis for his “tireless call for the protection of the most vulnerable among us — the ailing, the disadvantaged, the unemployed, the impoverished, the unborn — has awakened hearts on every continent.” 

King told The Hill that supporters of the resolution want to add more weight to Boehner’s invite. 

“The Speaker’s invited him to speak, it would give it more significance if there was an actual official resolution about it,” King said. 

The Speaker’s office did not directly comment on whether a vote will occur this year.

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