The pope's September visit to the Capitol will have an exclusive guest list of more than 23,000 people — and that's just including the invitees of House members.
In a letter to members Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi detailed the number of guests members can invite — and how they can get these coveted tickets — for Pope Francis's address to a joint meeting of Congress. The visit is a little less than two months away, and this letter is a testament of just how much interest the Sept. 24 joint meeting has already garnered.
Members can pick one guest for the House gallery. They can choose one person to watch a telecast of the speech in the Cannon House Office Building. And they can distribute one ticket for a person to sit on the lower West terrace and watch the broadcast on a Jumbotron.
Oh, and they can give a standing-room-only ticket for the West Front Lawn to another 50 people. Though "a clear line-of-sight cannot be guaranteed for all attending the West Front broadcast, the space provides an opportunity for your constituents to be part of the event," the letter states.
The letter comes a day after the House established rules governing the pope's visit. The rules detail those who will be allowed into the Hall of the House or the rooms leading there:
- Members of Congress and members-elect
- The Delegates and the Resident Commissioner
- The President and Vice President of the United States
- Justices of the Supreme Court
- Elected officers of the House
- The Parliamentarian
- The Architect of the Capitol
- The Librarian of Congress
- The Secretary and Sergeant-at-Arms of the Senate
- Heads of departments
- Other persons as designated by the Speaker
Additionally, enhanced security protocols will be in place for the Capitol complex and Washington D.C. during the Pope's visit, the letter states. More information on that is coming the week of Sept. 8.