The incoming Senate majority leader will miss the state funeral for former President Gerald Ford at the Capitol Rotunda.

Nevada Democrat Harry Reid is leading a bipartisan Senate delegation on a weeklong trip to South America. The group will visit Bolivia, Ecuador and Peru.

The incoming assistant majority leader, Dick Durbin of Illinois, is also on the trip, along with Democrats Kent Conrad of North Dakota, Ken Salazar of Colorado and Republicans Judd Gregg of New Hampshire and Robert Bennett of Utah.

Reid's spokesman said meetings with the South American presidents have been scheduled for a long time. He said U.S. relations with some of the countries are in need of improvement.

Before he left, Durbin released a statement calling Ford "a man of principle, integrity and honesty who helped heal the nation during some of our darkest times."