The president’s home announced today that because of budget cuts spawned by the sequester, the White House would no longer be able to host tours, starting this Saturday.
A message left on the phone number for White House visitors spelled out the cancellation:
“Due to staffing reductions resulting from sequestration, we regret to inform you that White House tours will be canceled effective Saturday March 9th, 2013 until further notice. Unfortunately, we will not be able to reschedule affected tours. We very much regret having to take this action particularly during the popular spring touring season.”
How exactly did sequestration cost Americans the ability to tour the White House? The issue is that the Secret Service agents normally assigned to securing the tours are being shifted to other security posts at the White House, in order to reduce overtime costs. They are also hoping to reduce the number of furlough days Secret Service agents face.
Not surprisingly, the Republican Party saw this move, and the way it was announced, as a political ploy. An amendment to a stop-gap budget bill the House is trying to pass this week, added by Rep. Louis Gohmert, R-Texas, sought to strip travel funding for the president’s visits to or from golf courses.
Another Republican, House Administration Committee Chair Candice Miller, R-Mich., invited tourists to visit the Capitol building in lieu of the White House. In a statement she released, she said:
“I believe closing the doors of the White House to the American people is wrong. I want to let those Americans planning a trip to Washington, D.C. know that the Capitol will remain open and encourage those wishing to visit to contact their member of Congress or the Capitol Visitors Center to schedule a tour.”
— Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPolitics Editor
The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.
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