(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 have a better idea. Forget about WH tours and get your NRA to send funds to Sandy Hook elementary. Then you'd show that you really care.
Dear Donald Trump: Please shut your pie hole.
Everyone on earth who can either hear or read
Tell Trump to concentrate on his Atlantic City casinos which need some serious renovations and stop worrying about the White House.
why is it always the republicans fault the real problem is that our comander in chief does not know how to lead nor will he listen to any suggestions he's only playing politics because that is the only thing that he knows what to do
I don't think that Trump should be doing that. Although, I do feel that oil companies should be sponoring road and bridge work to maintain the roads and bridges that the cars they fuel can continue to move. If Trump wants to sponsor a school so that kids have a better understanding of how business functions, that might might be acceptable. I know that science and engineering companies do that with some high schools. It should be done more often.
I can see it now. All of the trump signage placed along the tour route. "TRUMP PASSAGE", "TRUMP TOUR ENTERPRISES", and out front, "TRUMP WHITE HOUSE tours", and in big gold letters. He can open up a "little" shop inside and sell big pictures of himself as the "Saviour of the Republic". Beautiful man. Why did donald wait for newt to come up with this?
Tim, The vatican is lacking funds? LOL. The vatican has millions upon millions in art work. All they would have to do is sell some. I have never seen such a concentration of wealth as I have seen at Vatican City. It is outrageous.
obama's golf weekend with Tiger costs were more than 1 yr of keeping the White House open.
No interference in work Trump. Please channel your money somewhere else. Or ask someone you voted for last Nov. where the money should be beneficial. He might suggest those he called "takers"!
Please (pretty please) quit placing this idiot on your Ticker. I ,for one, refuse to comment on anything he says or does.
How much taxpayer money has this dweeb taken over the years because of his bankruptcy. He talks about physical problems but has added to them at one time or another, he should do something good with his money we the taxpayer helped him out enough.
Biggest Blowhard in the world!
I did some work for one of Mr. Trumps golf courses and almost got stuck with the bill until I stopped work and started removing my materials. He is nothing but a phony scoundrel!
Trump is a true American. God Bless Donald Trump.....
It must be sweeps week and the Donald needs some publicity. Why give onion head the time CNN?
How about we cut obama's travel budget that is way more than DC tours.
Trump the chump should start paying his fair share of taxes before paying for tours.
Its not that Trump or Gingrich really care....they know administratively and maybe even legally this will never happen...they can save their rhetoric for something else...And I am a Conservative who cant stand Obama...but this type of commentary is as pointless as our Congress and failed leadership has been in the past 4 years.
Trump recently declared bankruptcy. Did he consult with the judge before making his offer?
Note to Donald Trump: Your money's no good here and neither are you. Don't go away mad, just go away.
Liberals hate it when conservatives step up voluntarily to pick up the tab, but they love it when it's done via government proxies. Why is that?
Start by paying your fair share of taxes!
Is Trump going to use the money he stole from the American taxpayer through his two bankruptcies???
$50 an hour!!!
He would make a good running mate for Rand Paul in 2016.