Obama wants school groups to get White House tours
March 13th, 2013
10:26 AM ET
2 years ago

Obama wants school groups to get White House tours

(CNN) – Full public tours of the White House don't appear to be coming back any time soon, but President Obama says he wants to figure out a way certain school groups can still gain access to the famous address.

In an interview with ABC, Obama said the unpopular move to suspend the tours in the wake of automatic spending cuts "was not- a decision that went up to the White House." Still, Obama said he wants to find a way partial tours can resume.

"What I'm asking them is are there ways, for example, for us to accommodate school groups- you know, who may have traveled here with some bake sales," Obama said in the interview that aired Wednesday. "Can we make sure that- kids, potentially, can still come to tour?"

The decision to suspend the tours came days after Washington failed to come up with a plan to avert $85 billion in forced spending cuts, known as sequestration.

The U.S. Secret Service said that the plan to cut tours 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.

A White House spokesman said last week that this was just the first consequence from the automatic cuts. And White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Friday that more White House employees will face pay cuts and furloughs.

Some Republicans, however, argue the move is unnecessary and was simply a political ploy aimed to draw attention to the cuts. Some have called on the president to give up golf, not the White House tours, and real estate titan Donald Trump, a vocal critic of the president, even offered to pay for the tours through the remainder of the fiscal year (though it's highly unlikely private funding would be permitted for a Secret Service function).

Following up on the president's comments in the interview, a White House official said the decision to cancel the tours was made to prevent more furloughs of Secret Service employees.

"We greatly regret the inconvenience and disappointment these cancellations have caused," the official said. "While we are not able to reconsider the overall cancellation policy, the White House continues to assess the situation and looking to see if a particular accommodation can be made for student and other large groups who had previously scheduled reserved tour.”

In the interview Wednesday, Obama said he understood the decision was made to avoid increased furloughs of Secret Service employees.

"What the Secret Service explained to us was that they're going to have to furlough some folks. What furloughs mean is people lose a day of work and a day of pay, and, you know, the question for them is, you know, how deeply do they have to furlough their staff? And is it worth it to make sure that we got White House tours if it means you got a whole bunch of families depending on a paycheck who are suddenly seeing a 5% or 10% reduction in their pay," Obama said.

The Secret Service had no comment on the president's statements.

– CNN's Dan Lothian, Adam Aigner-Treworgy, and Lesa Jansen contributed to this report.


Filed under: President Obama • White House
soundoff (32 Responses)
  1. Richard Long

    Making the Sequester "as painful as possible". Compare the costs of one day of White House tours as compared to one flight of Air Force 1 to a posh Florida resort.
    Anyways, this is just another barrack back-peddle and another opportunity to blame the OTHER guys.

    March 13, 2013 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  2. Malory Archer

    rob

    Lets see the Presidents Budget. Lets have him send it to the Senate and the house for votes.

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    It's not the President's JOB to present a budget – that job falls to the House & Senate, and if he DID present a budget your string pullers would tell you that he's trying to do the job of the Senate and is therefore a DICTATOR! Honestly, if your feigned outrage wasn't so entertaining it would be sad. The house sends a pork-laden, gouge the poor/elderly budget to the Senate who tries to make it a bit more palatable, and the rethug minority in the Senate filibusters it out of existence.

    March 13, 2013 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    "Do you have 2 million dollars to cough up to pay the Secret Service? If you do, please mail your check to the Treasury Department."

    Someone offered to do just that, and it was rejected by the White House. Please try to keep up.
    ---------------–
    Not exactly. Republicans offered to *pay the salaries* of the Secret Service agents, which was correctly rejected. You can send extra money to the Treasury anytime you wish. You should already know that. Right wingers have been suggeting to liberals that they can overpay their taxes if they so desire for a few years now. Keep it up, you hear. We'll edumacate you yet.

    March 13, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  4. rob

    @AprilElaine
    Quoting an article from CNN shows how insulated you are from facts. Social Security and Medicare are insurance that we pay into expecting the coverage to be there when we retire. They are both going broke because the Govt mis allocates the $'s they take from us. When you listen to the parroting liberal media spout the same old tired propaganda from the Dems trying to scare people then you are the type of low information voter the Dems need to hold power.

    March 13, 2013 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  5. critical thinking

    "It's not the President's JOB to present a budget "

    Malory, you might want to bone up on your Govt law. The President is required by LAW to present an annual budget by Feb 1st. This President has chosen to ignore that silly requirement and will present his on April 1st, after he crticizes the house budget. And btw, last year his budget was soundely voted upon in both the house and the senate and guess how many votes yes votes it received. The answer : zero, none, nada.

    March 13, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  6. rob

    Malory, the administration is required to present a budget for the agencies of the Govt to the Congress by Feb 10th of each year. This budget is then supposed to be deliberated by the various committees in the house and Senate. The Senate and the House then prepare and vote on their own budgets and they go to a conference where the differences are hammered out and then its sent back to the president for his approval. The Senate under Harry Reid has not produced a budget in 4 years.

    I say it again, lets see the Administrations budget, lets see the senate produce and vote for a budget !!!

    March 13, 2013 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  7. AprilElaine

    @Rob Please dont insult my intelligence. I read articles from CNN, Times and other credible sources as well as news channels, so what I speak of is directly from these articles. And if you have a problems with what I read or quoted then maybe you should email one of those sites and plead your case. I am not here to insult or ridicule anyone. I dont watch or read Fox News and to me thats the only "liberal media" your accusing me of listening to. I am a democrat and I support Obama.. if you have a problem with that then dont respond to my posts sir.

    March 13, 2013 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
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