Congress, agencies set aside agendas to honor Reagan

House and Senate shut down for the week as preparations begin for state funeral Friday.

The death of Ronald Reagan has largely cleared the House and Senate schedules this week, as leaders have postponed planned legislative action in a sign of respect to the former president.

Reagan's body will arrive Wednesday evening at the Capitol where an arrival ceremony will be held with Reagan's family, senators, House members, government officials and visiting heads of state.

The House and Senate sergeants at arms are coordinating the transport and protection of Reagan's body with the Military District of Washington, which is responsible for handling state funerals. Reagan will continue to lie in state through early Friday morning. Many members of Congress and agency officials will attend Reagan's state funeral Friday at the Washington National Cathedral.

According to a spokesman for House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, consideration of a succession of energy-related bills as part of the eight-week long GOP "jobs agenda" has been postponed, while Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., said further Senate action on the fiscal 2005 defense authorization bill will be delayed until next week.

DeLay had not yet returned to Washington as of Monday afternoon, and it had not been determined whether the energy theme will reappear on the agenda next week or at a later date.

The House returns Tuesday and is expected to vote on two procedural resolutions allowing the use of the Capitol Rotunda for Reagan's body to lie in state, and a privileged bereavement resolution.

The House also is scheduled to vote on a resolution honoring Reagan, which could occur as late as Wednesday afternoon. The Senate approved its resolution Monday on the use of the Capitol and has scrapped legislative work for the week. A vote on the Senate's resolution honoring Reagan is scheduled for Tuesday, and the floor is reserved Tuesday and Wednesday for lawmakers to pay tribute to Reagan.

The Senate is not expected to be in session Thursday and Friday, leadership aides said, while the House could be in pro forma session Thursday and will be out of session Friday.

Meanwhile, the House and Senate sergeants at arms announced Monday that the Capitol would be closed to all public and staff-led tours beginning this afternoon through Friday. The Capitol will remain open around the clock following the funeral ceremony Wednesday evening through Friday morning to accommodate public viewing.