(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.
Meterman- I'd trust Trumps's word before I would trust Obama's.
So first the Republicans were upset because Obama was "Spending" too much and now they upset because Obama reduced spending...WTH! There is no pleasing the Republicans!
$50 an hour ? They should keep that tour closed for ever !!
1. If you want to cut secret service expenses, wouldn't fewer Obama family trips to Hawaii and more trips to Camp David save more money?
2. Compromise would require an actual willingness to make real cuts.
3. Note – Any Tax Increase comes from the remaining part of my shrinking family budget that pays for FOOD. The 2% hike on Social Security is already hurting us bad.
Don't take him up on the offer. Then he'd think he owned the WH. Actually closing the WH tours is so stupid. The cost of that is a drop in the bucket. Let congress take a cut in pay commensurate with the cost of keeping the tours going.
@Rudy NYC –
@the REAL truth..
Totally agree – Nixon was impeached for much less. There are definitely grounds to impeach here – on multiple levels.
Seriously? You've got to be joking. It's gonna look like really weird for a Congress to attempt to impeach a POTUS for signing a bill into law after that same Congress voted on it, passed it, and then sent it to him for his signature. But, hey man. I understand that's the sort of weird science that can occur in right wing world.
Rudy.. that wan't me... that was another of freedoms troll responses..
All the vacations taken by using Air Force one would meet the criteria of cutting 84 million dollars from the SS budget.
Well let him do it..
The President should not take up Trump on his offer. Trump is only involved in something if it is for the GOOD of HIM, not anybody else. Trump is probably sending in spies to the White House to start up something stupid like he always does. He's an embarassment to the USA.
Why not? It's the only way he'll get to see the inside of it.
Donald Trump is a joke. Maybe he could sell his hair to pay for these tours. If he has any money he should pay for the bankrupties he has made.......
@Lynda/Minnesota – 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 ....... ?
Oh so true.. I keep all my posts – even the ones that CNN moderates off.. even when much worse is allowed past and I have followed the posting rules. The hate IS being fueled and I get tired of seeing it posted without response. But then, commentary is opinion and we all know about opinions.. not even the Donald can keep them to himself.
I could care less in one likes the POTUS, the Dem's or the GOP. All I care about is posting with TRUTH and FACT – something of which there is very little here. I'm sure to many on the right that my posts come across as left-wing, liberal, socialist.. whatever.. FACT (and TRUTH) is that I'm a conservative.. but not a Republican. Not any more. I hate seeing what they have done to this country, then gerrymander the illiterate masses into believing it's all Obama's fault.
He'll pay for tours of his future (ha ha) home, but won't pay a few dollars more in taxes? This makes sense to someone, I'm sure.
How generous of you Mr Trump,
Please go find people in need, the homeless and the poor and spend that money on them and then tell no one, because that's how true giving works.
Your fellow American from next state.
Make Obama....he can afford it. He still has people out there collecting money for him.
If they can't afford that, I'm dumping my treasuries, bonds and US dollar.
Buy GOLD and Silver!!
How much does the Judicial Branch of Government have to cut because the executive branch refuses to prosecute the aiding and abeiting of a kidnapping of a minor by them, to protect the political careers of an exposed criminal cabal.
Please do not give that vulgarian ,Trump, anymore publicity. He is bad news.
Trump jumping into the media spotlight again :D
Does this clown have another tv show or some new scheme hes trying to promote with this publicity?
The White House could open a fund for anonymous donations and see how quickly that gets filled up? I would guess trump would not do make any contribution without the spotlight.
Boy these republicans hatred make me laugh .Impeachment ,big presidencial vacations on Air Force 1 and all the other crap only nut jobs like you republicans can dish out and believe as well..Keep it up boys the ACA covers drugs for psychological disorders as well just keep up the ranting it'll come to yah!!!
To all the Repubs commenting on Obama's vacationing/golfing, etc.: George W. Bush took more vacations than any president has ever. Where was all your concern then? Stupid to make vacationing a political issue.
Like Trump or not at least he's doing more than Obama is to open THE PEOPLE'S HOUSE to the public! This president should be ASHAMED of himself for using the White House for his political agenda!
Trump is getting blasted because he is offering to pay for the tours but it's ok for Obama to sell access for 500K? BTW, the workers will be reassigned to other duties, therefore, no pay cuts or savings.
To funny and very in the face of the white house. The man knows how to make headlines. like him are hate him this is to funny.
If the sequester was as dire as we heard from Obama and the democrats, then why was Obama making JOKES about it at the Gridiron dinner? The sky did not fall as the liberal outlets tried to persuade us. We wll not, however, be hearing from them about the tremendously over exaggerated, the sky is falling, tirade that we had to endure for such a long time.