Via Politico:

The White House has cancelled its annual picnic for members of Congress, a White House official told POLITICO Wednesday.

The Sept. 18 barbecue was nixed last week when it looked like the House, and possibly the Senate, would be consumed by the debate over Syria, the official said.

But lawmakers won’t be shut out entirely. They can now bring their families to a White House holiday party, which has traditionally been held only for lawmakers.

“The 2013 Congressional Picnic has been cancelled,” the official said in a statement. “The President and Mrs. Obama look forward to welcoming Members of Congress and their immediate families at the Congressional Holiday Ball in December.”

The picnic had initially been postponed from June because of scheduling conflicts.

It’s been a rite of summer in the Obama White House, one of the only large-scale, informal social gatherings for the president and members of Congress.