The Washington Times - March 14, 2013, 12:13PM

Pope Francis has been on the job less than a day, but House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi already is a big fan.

The California Democrat and practicing Catholic opened her weekly Capitol news conference Thursday by sharing her excitement with reporters over the papal election a day earlier. She said she was particularly pleased the new pope took his papal name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi — the patron saint of the lawmaker’s hometown, San Francisco.

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“It’s very exciting. I’m just so thrilled,” she said. “I couldn’t read enough (about the papal election). I mean, what were the uniforms of the people who were guarding the former pope and the new pope. … There wasn’t a detail about what was happening there historically, in every way, that I (didn’t have) an insatiable appetite for.”

When asked if she expects an invitation to the papal investiture in Rome, Mrs. Pelosi smiled and said, “I hope so.”

The House Democratic leader wasn’t so kind when discussing the new House’s Republican-crafted budget proposal, calling it a “study in contradictions” and a “hoax.”

“While all that joyous activity is happening in Rome and celebrated throughout the world, last night here in Washington, the (Republican-controlled House Budget Committee) passed a budget along party lines that is nothing more than the Romney-Ryan policies that were rejected by the American people in the last election,” she said.

“The Republicans say this is their path to prosperity. I would say, prosperity for whom, because by and large, it is a path to pain, pain for the middle class, pain for working families and children, pain for America’s seniors.”