March 9th, 2013
10:36 AM ET
2 years ago

After GOP criticism of golf costs, Obama opts for basketball

(CNN) – Saturday morning dawned sunny in Washington, with clear skies and temperatures in the mid-40s – in other words, perfect golf weather.

But President Barack Obama didn’t hit the links, a favorite hobby of his that came under criticism from Republicans in recent days.

He attended his daughter Sasha’s basketball game in the Washington suburb of Chevy Chase, Maryland.

Republicans have argued the money spent on Secret Service protection for a presidential golf outing would be better spent on keeping the White House open for tours, which the Obama administration canceled starting this weekend, citing a need to save money because of the forced spending cuts which kicked in a week ago.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called for the White House to “reopen the White House tours for children.”

“The president will use up more Secret Service time guarding him while he golfs than it would take to keep the White House tours open all year,” he said Friday on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, submitted legislation which would make it illegal for Obama to use federal funds for commuting to and from golf outings until the White House resumes tours.

Reopening the White House for tours would only cost "one or two golf trips less" for Obama, he argued.

The Secret Service said canceling public tours for the remainder of the government’s financial year -– through September 30 - would save the government about $2 million. The tours through the White House East Wing require 37 agents at a cost of $74,000 per week, the agency said.

The forced federal spending cuts, known in Washington as sequestration, require the Secret Service to cut more than $84 million from its budget, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

Secret Service spokesman Max Milien said in a statement, "Due to sequestration, Uniformed Division Officers normally assigned to conducting public tours will be reassigned to other security posts at the White House and all tours will be cancelled. This staffing measure will reduce overtime costs overall and may ultimately reduce the number of potential furloughs necessary by our agency."

Republicans have contrasted the White House tour cancelation with House Speaker John Boehner’s plan to keep Capitol Hill open four tours.

"While I’m disappointed the White House has chosen to comply with sequestration by cutting public tours, I’m pleased to assure you that public tours of the United States Capitol will continue," the Ohio Republican said in a statement.

But access to the Capitol and congressional offices has been cut. House officers said this week they will likely close building entrances and restrict business hours.

When in the nation’s capital, many of Obama’s golf outings are at the nearby Andrews military base. In February, he spent a weekend at a Palm City resort where he golfed with Tiger Woods and Woods’ former coach Butch Harmon.

– CNN’s Adam Aigner-Treworgy, Ashley Killough and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report

Watch The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer weekdays at 4pm to 6pm ET and Saturdays at 6pm ET. For the latest from The Situation Room click here.

soundoff (39 Responses)
  1. Reeaaally

    It's ridiculous to complain about the President going golfing. Don't these congress people have more important issues they should be addressing? Why are they taking off for a week, after every two weeks of working 3 to 4 days. Who's paying for their air fare home and back to DC. The GOP/TP are way out of line with their accusations, when then should be doing their job, which they are not! Anything to distract from the real issues at hand, I guess!

    March 9, 2013 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  2. Reeaaally

    When "they" should be doing their job.

    March 9, 2013 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  3. freedom

    Shame on the president for closing the White House doors to the American people. The children he turns away will always remember him for this.

    March 9, 2013 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  4. Anthony... proud tax payer

    And they'll complain about THAT too. while they go off on their 2 weeks on, 2 weeks off work schedules....

    March 9, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  5. com-man-senz

    Republicans want to complain how the children wont get to tour the white house. But it doesnt seem to bother them in the least that thousands of children are getting kicked from headstart, or that teachers will be laid off, or that the school lunch program for poor children will be hacked and slashed. But then, I guess its just silly of me to think republicans care much at all about the poor. Just ask them how they feel about raising the minimum wage.

    March 9, 2013 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  6. ST

    Anyone who has the right thinking should not questions what game and costs the President opt to take. Being President is not a joke and not an easy task. It eats their brains more than we eat our food, hence reducing their life span. If Pres. Obama did not take the job, he could NOT look the way he looks now. Let him do whatever he thinks will relax his mind for at least a short while. We owe Presidents more than they owe us.

    March 9, 2013 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  7. cbr

    A golf game on the weekend seems to bother these Senators and Representatives who are only scheduled to work Tuesday through Thursday. Where are they the rest of the time? They get free transportation back to their districts twice a month and perhaps they need to let us know what they are doing then. We might be surprised at how much politcking is done on the public's dime.

    March 9, 2013 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  8. GI Joe

    If we complain enough, can we force Boehner to give up his booze and cigarettes?

    March 9, 2013 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  9. roro

    Do these jerks think we don't remember all the "vacations" Bush took during his 8 years? NO ONE took off more time than he did. What the heck is wrong with a round of golf? Boehner spends more time on the links than anyone. Everyone needs some time to kick back, especially the person who is TRYING TO RUN THIS COUNTRY, in spite of the push back on everything from the Republicans.

    March 9, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  10. qwerty

    The president should do the right thing, he should NOT close the white house for public tours as this is the peoples house. At the time of budget cuts, why spending time and taxpayers money for leisure golf trips when the money can be use for public service instead ? I agree that he should be using the money he spent on his trips to keep the white house open for public tours. This just shows how president Obama, not serious about governments spending problems that even though at the middle of sequestration, he still has time to spend taxpayers money on his unecessary leisure trips.

    March 9, 2013 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  11. GI Joe

    Each congress person gets $1.3 Million per year for exenses. Hmmmm.

    And on top of that, they get $174,000 salary plus a lot of other "stuff" we pay for.

    Yet they work 3 days every 2 or 3 weeks and think they're doing a fine job.

    FIRE THEM ALL IN 2014.

    March 9, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  12. PJ

    Nobody cares what Gohmert, Grinch, or Boozehound Boehner think. I seriously doubt that President Obama
    switched to basketball because of what these three said, or any other Republican for that matter.

    March 9, 2013 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  13. Blinded by the republican lie

    The jealousy just ooozes off of these gop teatrolls, and they make it so obvious.

    March 9, 2013 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  14. GetReal

    How many really believe that the President makes the call to schedule and cancel House tours?

    March 9, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  15. Name Catmandew

    I see how this works the Obama news network doesn't post negatives about our fearless leader only nice things about our failure POTUS

    March 9, 2013 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  16. Dennis Freeman

    As usual, the Tea Party/GOP is worried about the big stuff. Really big thinkers those fellas.

    March 9, 2013 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  17. Norma Vessels

    Newt Gingrich keeps on critizing our President for each and every single thing he does .. but, the economy keeps on growing, the stock market has topped the highest mark yet .. and the employment for February was awsome. The factories are doing very well, after the scare of Bankruptsy .. and the Housing market is thriving once again.

    Keep on fussing, Mr Gingrich, Republicans .. it won't stop progress with one of the best Presidents we've every had! :-)

    March 9, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  18. Thomas

    Golf Digest magazine featured John Boehner—then a rising star among House Republicans .
    $75,000 Membership at All Male Golf Club, $160,000 on golf junkets... John Boehner spends a lot of time teeing off .

    Ad in the booze and cigarettes , you got a PARTY !

    March 9, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  19. DaveC

    Funny how no one says anything about the boatload of staffers each congressman/woman and senator has. Boehner has 15 staffers working full time. Pretty sure that is the norm. McConnell has about the same. Don't preach about golf games when these people can be cut in half.

    March 9, 2013 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  20. tess

    dont' get all excited – it won't last – as soon as the fool thinks the media is back licking his butt, he'll be off to the links!

    March 9, 2013 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  21. sjlucas

    I agree. Members of Congress fly home (or to other destinations) at government expense when they are not in session. Maybe Congressional travel budgets should be reduced due to the sequestration ... oh, wait, I forgot. The Congress usually exempts themselves from laws that negatively affect others ... so they won't be furloughed and lose paid.

    March 9, 2013 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  22. Maria Rivera-Carvalho

    President Obama does everything with intelligence, elegance and grace. He is a true gentleman who does not have listen to the Republican political thugs that will antagonize him just for being alive. This is a democracy after all, and the voters spoke loud and clear. That's the only voice the president needs to listen to. Advice to Republicans: eat your sour grapes in peace and try stop the party's insane race towards irrelevance.

    March 9, 2013 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  23. MaryM

    Just do your jobs republicans and stop acting like petulant children

    March 9, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  24. lottie

    whats more important a tour of the white house or a head start program? Really the republicans are complaining after their last week of. They only work for a week or two then take off. Who pays for them. ??? These clowns will complain no matter what the president does and wasting tax payers money while you try to make a bill to prevent the president from playing golf. How crazy is that??? I bet none of them cut back on their food and drink allowance. Bunch of babies.

    March 9, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  25. Mack

    I am sick and tired of being sick and tired of the Repubs complaining about everything that President Obama does when their precious "Dubya" did much, much more than Obama and not a word was mumbled. And it's okay for the gov't to undergo a sequester, but the White House cannot cancel tours?!?! Gimme a break. How many congressional staffers are losing their jobs?

    March 9, 2013 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
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