By Jordy Yager and Mike Soraghan - 08/27/09 02:06 PM EDT
Lawmakers themselves are scrambling to rearrange their weekend plans so that they may attend Kennedy’s funeral service in Boston on Saturday, where President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaCannabis conversation urged at North American Leaders Summit Obama: 'There's still work to do' for gay community Our most toxic export: American politick MORE is scheduled to deliver one of the eulogies.
“When we heard the news, there was never a question of whether Jim would come back, but how fast he could make it,” said Michael Mershon, spokesman for McGovern.
“Ted Kennedy was always there for him. Always. And it went beyond the political and legislative stuff. When Jim and Lisa’s first child was born, the very first call that Jim got at the hospital was from Ted Kennedy. And he wants to be there to say goodbye.”
McGovern is expected to arrive in Boston on Friday afternoon to attend the public viewing in addition to the funeral on Saturday.
Other lawmakers are opting for a shorter Congress-led journey from the Washington area to the Boston region.
The Senate sergeant at arms's office is in the process of coordinating at least one bus to take senators to Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, where they will board a plane to fly to an undisclosed airfield in the Boston area. But the details have not all been ironed out.
“We still have today and tomorrow, so I think senators and their families and spouses are still making arrangements to get here,” said Terry Gainer, the Senate sergeant at arms.
Gainer also said that once decided upon, the time and location of the bus departure would not be released publicly for security reasons.
The Senate sergeant at arms's office is in charge of all large congressional movement to and from the Capitol — such as when lawmakers travel to political conventions — and tightly coordinates its efforts with local police. And in Kennedy’s case, with all of the living presidents expected to join Obama in Boston, the office has also been working closely with the Secret Service.
An international retinue, including Ireland’s Prime Minister Brian Cowen, is expected to join at least 44 sitting senators and 10 former senators, including Birch Bayh (D-Ind.), who rescued Kennedy from a 1964 plane crash in Massachusetts, according to The Associated Press.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will also attend the funeral in Boston, as will House Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-Calif.).
Other members, like Rep. Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraDemocrats end sit-in on gun control Dems sustain protest as GOP angles to start recess early Clinton vows to work closely with Democrats MORE (D-Calif.), vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, are planning to attend the burial ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday, but are not making the trip to Boston for the funeral service.
Kennedy will be buried beside his brothers President John F. Kennedy and Attorney General Robert Kennedy.
Many lawmakers rearranged their plans so they could attend the Boston service or the burial service Saturday evening.
Shortly after Kennedy’s death on Tuesday, Sen. Mark BegichMark BegichSenate GOP deeply concerned over Trump effect Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm Unable to ban Internet gambling, lawmakers try for moratorium MORE (D-Alaska) postponed a trip for Sens. Barbara BoxerBarbara BoxerSenate honors Cleveland Cavs' NBA championship California’s last nuclear plant slated to close Senate rejects gun control background check measures MORE (D-Calif.), Bernie SandersBernie SandersSanders shares star power with NY House hopeful Dems adopt minimum wage in platform draft Clinton warning about 'accessible' email adds fuel to controversy MORE (I-Vt.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Debbie StabenowDebbie StabenowClinton to headline fundraiser with Senate, House Democrats: report USDA extends comment period for 'certified organic' animal rule Lawmakers consider adding mental health bill to opioid conference MORE (D-Mich.) to come to Alaska this weekend to view examples of the effects of climate change.
Though the Senate sergeant at arms's office will fly senators back from Boston to Andrews Air Force Base, the office will have a small role in getting the lawmakers to the Arlington service if they plan on attending.
“Because that’s a private event, there will be much less involvement by the sergeant at arms's office,” Gainer said of the Arlington burial service. “But we’re still working with the family as to how we’ll do that. I do believe that it will be largely driven by the family and the invitations, so we’ll have a negligible role in that.”