(CNN) – Real estate titan Donald Trump said he'll cover the costs to keep the White House tours open for rest of the fiscal year, an idea proposed online last week by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
The White House announced Tuesday it was suspending the tours through September 30 as a consequence of the forced spending cuts-known in Washington as the sequester–that began taking effect March 1. The tours stopped running on Friday.
The move quickly sparked controversy, with some Republicans arguing the Obama administration was using the canceled tours as a political ploy to draw up negative reaction from the American public over the cuts.
Gingrich floated an alternative idea last week. On Twitter the former presidential candidate volunteered his fellow Republican to pick up the tab.
"Donald trump should offer to pay for the white house tours. He can afford it and it would show who cares more for American students," he wrote, referring to the hordes of kids who venture to Washington for spring break and summer vacation.
Asked Monday about the tweet on "Fox and Friends," Trump said in a phone interview that he hadn't heard anything about the suggestion.
"I think it's so nice of Newt to suggest that," the media mogul said, adding that Gingrich and his wife are members of his club in Washington. "But it sounds reasonable to me. Why not?"
After agreeing to the pitch, he asked how much it would cost.
The U.S. Secret Service told CNN Thursday that the plan will help the agency save $74,000 per week - or $2 million in the next seven months. That's how much it costs to pay 37 uniformed officers $50 an hour for 40 hours a week to secure the tour's route through the East Wing.
But that's just a fraction of the $84 million the Secret Service needs to cut from its $1.6 billion budget, according to the Office of Management and Budget. The officers normally assigned to the tours will be reassigned to other duties at the White House.
"The Secret Service, like other agencies of government is affected by the sequester," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said during his Thursday press briefing. "And the Secret Service presented options that ranged from canceling tours to potential furloughs and cuts in overtime. And in order to allow the Secret Service to best fulfill its core mission, the White House made the decision that we would unfortunately have to temporarily suspend these tours."
READ MORE: Critics to Obama: Give up golf, not W.H. tours
Asked if the White House could accept private donations to fund the tours, White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest said Friday "I don't know if it's technically possible."
"My guess is that it's not," he said in the daily briefing. "The reason for that is that the sequester mandates across the board, non-strategic, indiscriminate, cuts to the budget. It allows very little, if any, flexibility."
While the White House has not commented on Trump's specific offer, it would also be highly unusual for the Obama administration to accept private contributions for a Secret Service activity.
Trump on Monday said the public White House tours of the East Wing have been a "simple" and "open" tradition for years.
"It's certainly not a lot of money. The big thing is that the country is going to lose a trillion dollars this year," he said. "Closing the White House tours is not exactly the biggest thing on the agenda."
– CNN's Adam Aigner-Treworgy and Lesa Jansen contributed to this report.
I refuse, and so should you, to throw in the towel just because their hate is so insidious that it starts to gnaw at the fabric of your heart, that it starts to taint the relationships you have outside of this site. If we walk away and let them spread their hate unchecked they will taint others.
It's a sad commentary on America when everything you mentioned to Wake Up People is so absolutely true. Quite often I can almost feel the hate through my computer screen, and for as much as I like to mock the haters, I too have had to step away from it. But as you said, we need to gather back to let them know they haven't, nor will they ever, win with their hate and their animosity. I can't tell how you many times I've tried to respond to the hate, and, as you stated, not had my response printed.
While it's all a game to CNN, those being called the most vile things can't always respond accordingly, and yes, CNN is at fault if only through it's own game of bait and wait and moderate.
On wonders why the need to fuel the hate. Perhaps CNN would care to respond ....... ?
When will the Republicans toss out their Tea Party and let government operate again?
What a bunch of losers – they think they can stop the Sequestor? Ha ha ha – lost again didn't you? Health Care – you lost. Bring the boys home from Afghanistan? GOP – you lost that one too.
America doesn't listen to losers. Republicans – vote for a budget you fools, and our good President will sign it.
Obama doesnt even know his dad. How typical in American? His moma probaly got government funding. Dumb white women fell for that crap
Donald Trump.....I wouldn't p!ss on him if his heart was on fire!
The closing of tours is nothing more than a punishment for the American people. The article states that that the tour agents will be assigned to other duties in the White House. Who is doing those duties now? This policy results in less work for all White House agents, no reduction in costs, and the American people be Damned!!!
This is good. He's an American Citizen. If there's no conflict of interest, I think it was harmless. We can't be too proud. If he wants, ask him to donate some billions to help college students.
I would ask for the money up front!! i would not Bank on this guy's word along, period
Whit this offer Trump has done more for America than Obama will ever do. mad respect yo!
Maybe instead of paying for WH tours Trump could pay for something really useful like an extra nurse at every VA hospital. Maybe even a box of tissue, razor, and toothebrush since the VA relies on volunteers to supply them. Gingrich and Trump really know how to spotlight the important things in life...not.
The cost figure is a joke. I've been on those tours. The truth is the Secret Service has to have those people on duty despite the tours for anyone entering the white house. If there is a cost, it would be for the tour guide, who is probably a volunteer and therefor doesn't get paid.
It sounds like Cngress would have to change the law to allow for private funds to replace public funds and still count as part of the cuts. But if I had to cut 84 million dolars from the Secret Service budget, 2 million seems like a pretty good start. Still dumb, but what did you expect when Congress decided that failure was an option?
Isn't this what the GOP wants? How about some pay-cuts for these Congressional slackers?
Someone needs to check why this costs 75k a week. If all the people involved made 100k a year that would pay for almost 40 people...Does it really take that? Are we that inefficient? Of course we are
So, Republicans created a phony crisis by demanding austerity. The White House responds with a symbolic gesture of cutting tours. Republicans respond with canned criticism of the White House. The only thing missing from this circus are a few clowns. Oh wait… Here comes Newt and Trump.
maybe if trump stoped filing for bankruptcy and paid his bills, and just guessing paid an actual tax rate equal to the average american we wouldn't need his fake offer to pay for the tours, you know its fake, just like his fake run for president.
I can't believe people actually take Trump seriously in anything he says or does. In other words, I can't believe CNN thinks Donald Trump is, well ... newsworthy at any level of discourse.
For those that do take him seriously ... more fool you.
You mean that I can't even see the inside of the house that my tax money maintains? If that's the case then why am I paying for this edifice and it's ungrateful inhabitants?
I bought an 'Orange Julius" at the mall last week, and it had Donald's face on the cup.
Donald Trump sucks !! He is such an ass that I don't want to see him on tv or hear his voice! Maybe he will give us all a well deserved break and die of old age soon. His pig headed rants and conspiracy theories have become nothing but jokes. The only way people will watch him on tv is if he surrounds him self with celeberties.
Can't think of something more useful to do for the human struggle to do with $2 Million? Lots of hungry mouths and people in need of help.
They don't want people to donate money? Sound's like it's not about the money but rather politically motivated. They said we are going to lose a trillion dollars this year. With Obama in charge, you can count on it being triple that estimate.
O'Bama is just an idiot. They cancelled the tours to save money,,but said the Secret Service personell would be assigned "OTHER DUTIES" in the White House. How in the hell is that saving any money??
So, essentially Gingrich challenged Trump to volunteer more TAX money, and Trump gave it up...?
Just another way for Trump to try to stick it to Obama.
After all Trump didn't get his way on the birther thing did he. Trump has more money then brains. Try giving it to the poor who really do need it.