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By Rebecca Shabad
WASHINGTON — Former President George H.W. Bush is being flown Monday aboard “Special Air Mission 41,” a presidential aircraft temporarily renamed in honor of the 41st president, from Houston, Texas, to the nation’s capital, where he will lie in state until Wednesday.
Leaders of the House and Senate announced over the weekend that the former president, who died Friday at the age of 94, would lie in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.
Members of Congress are expected to hold an arrival ceremony around 4:45 p.m. ET Monday, a little more than an hour after the flight from Ellington Airport lands at Joint Base Andrews. President Donald Trump dispatched the government plane to Texas pick up the body of former president, as well as members of his family.
Bush’s spokesman, Jim McGrath, tweeted a photo of the plane early Monday morning.
Former President George W. Bush announced that his father had died in a statement late Friday.
“Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro and I are saddened to announce that after 94 remarkable years, our dear Dad has died,” his son said. “George H.W. Bush was a man of the highest character and the best dad a son or daughter could ask for. The entire Bush family is deeply grateful for 41’s life and love, for the compassion of those who have cared and prayed for Dad, and for the condolences of our friends and fellow citizens.”
The elder Bush’s final words were to his son, George W. Bush, by speakerphone on Friday night in which the younger Bush told his father that he had been a “wonderful dad” and that he loved him. George H.W. Bush replied, “I love you, too.”
A public service will be held Wednesday at Washington’s National Cathedral. President Donald Trump has declared Wednesday a federal holiday and a national day of mourning.
The late president’s remains are scheduled to return to Houston later Wednesday to lie in repose at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, where a private funeral service will be held Thursday.
Afterward, he’ll be transported by funeral car on a train to College Station, Texas — the site of the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum — where he’ll be buried alongside his wife, former first lady Barbara Bush, who died earlier this year, and their daughter Robin, who died of leukemia at age 3.
McGrath tweeted that the former president will be buried wearing special socks “that pay tribute to his lifetime of service.”
Bush spent years wearing themed, colorful socks.
On Sunday, McGrath tweeted a photo of Bush’s service dog, Sully, lying beside the casket.
“Mission complete,” McGrath wrote. Sully will move on to helping wounded military veterans at Walter Reed hospital, America’s VetDogs announced on Facebook.
Bush is among the select few who have lain in state in the Capitol Rotunda.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who died in August a little more than a year after being diagnosed with brain cancer, was the last person to lie in state there. Former President Gerald Ford was the last president to lie in state in the rotunda after he died in late 2006. Former President Ronald Reagan also lied there in 2004, as did civil rights icon Rosa Parks after her death in 2005.
Meanwhile, due to the remembrances for Bush, the House will not be voting this week as originally scheduled, multiple GOP sources confirmed to NBC News on Monday. A partial government shutdown looms should Friday’s funding deadline not be met, but sources are confident that it will be funded by a short-term spending bill known as a continuing resolution. This would have to be done by a unanimous consent voice vote sometime this week.
Trump was originally scheduled to meet with Democratic leaders in the House and Senate — Nancy Pelosi of California and Chuck Schumer of New York — on Tuesday to discuss the funding situation, but the meeting has been postponed, according to three Democratic aides. Both Democratic leaders have asked for the meeting to be rescheduled to next week.
Kasie Hunt and Frank Thorp V contributed.