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No GOP leaders attending Shimon Peres funeral

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Republican congressional leaders will not be joining President Obama’s bipartisan delegation to attend Friday’s state funeral for former Israeli President Shimon Peres.

{mosads}Both House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) joined the U.S. presidential delegation, which departed Thursday afternoon for Jerusalem. And more than a dozen other congressional Democrats, including Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (Pa.) and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), were on the list released by the White House.

Republicans will be represented by three House members: former Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.); Rep. Kay Granger (Texas), chairwoman of the State and Foreign Operations Appropriations subcommittee; and freshman Rep. Lee Zeldin (N.Y.), the only Jewish Republican currently serving in Congress. 

The top two House Republicans — Speaker Paul Ryan (Wis.) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.) — will not be attending the funeral, aides confirmed without providing an explanation.

A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the last-minute nature of the request and the fact that the Senate was in session Thursday made it difficult for senators to attend. 

Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), the top Jewish lawmaker in Congress, were both working Thursday as the Senate wrapped up business before the pre-election break; neither Democrat was listed as part of Obama’s delegation.

The defense of Israel is a rare issue that unites lawmakers in both political parties. But the delegation was hastily put together, after it was announced Peres’s state funeral would be held just two days after his death.

Peres, one of Israel’s founding fathers who had spent decades working toward peace with the Palestinians, died Wednesday at the age of 93. 

The White House began inviting Hill leaders and lawmakers from both parties to join the delegation on Wednesday night, just as Congress was finishing work on a bill to avert a government shutdown.

Despite the absence of GOP leaders making the trip, tributes to Peres have poured in from Republicans. McConnell recalled that he took part in awarding the late foreign leader with the Congressional Gold Medal several years ago. 

“His political career is one that spans nearly seven decades and encompasses just about every high office imaginable: president and prime minister, peacemaker and revered statesman, one of the last remaining connections to the founding of the modern State of Israel,” McConnell said in a floor speech on Wednesday.

“This is how the world will remember Shimon Peres.”

Other dignitaries in the delegation include former President Clinton, who worked closely with Peres during the 1990s on Middle East peace; Secretary of State John Kerry; and national security adviser Susan Rice.

Tags Bob Casey Chuck Schumer Harry Reid John Kerry Kay Granger Mitch McConnell Paul Ryan

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