Obama personally greets returning White House tours
November 5th, 2013
12:03 PM ET
11 months ago

Obama personally greets returning White House tours

Washington (CNN) - Visitors on the newly reopened White House tours were not just greeted by security guards and staffers Tuesday morning but by the building's residents, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.

The President and the first lady greeted a long line of visitors one by one. Tours of the White House returned Tuesday for the first time in eight months after administration officials canceled them in March, citing funding constraints from the forced federal budget cuts, known in Washington speak as "the sequester."

The stream of visitors included school children and government employees and their families. Obama stayed to greet only one group of visitors but when he left, his wife still had help in the form of the first family pets Bo and Sunny.

According to the White House, three million people have visited since Obama took office in 2009, attending unofficial holiday events and official ceremonies.

The return of the tours, on a limited schedule, was announced last month.

The President took considerable heat when the tours were canceled, with Republicans arguing it was a purely political move aimed at drumming up ire at the GOP for the cancellation.

"This is nonsense," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and now co-host of CNN's "Crossfire," said at the time." "This is punishing the American people."

"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 argued.

The U.S. Secret Service said in March the plan to nix the tours would save the agency $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.

"Last year's sequestration came midway through the fiscal year," U.S. Secret Service Spokesman Brian Leary said last month. "And we were unable to adjust or re-allocate remaining funding to continue tours while still ensuring enough funding remained to meet all operational needs and avoid furloughing our employees."

Leary added that the Secret Service is confident that – through the short-term spending bill passed by Congress in October – tours can operate at a reduced level, "while still meeting operational requirements."

Visitors who want a White House tour are advised to obtain tickets through their members of Congress.

–CNN's Ashley Killough contributed to this report.


Filed under: White House
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Gurgyl

    Security is needed. Thoroughly check before you let in.

    November 5, 2013 12:07 pm at 12:07 pm |
  2. luke,az

    Keep fighting Mr. President ! We're praying for you, your beautiful wife, children and staff. Your doing an outstanding job for our country. Stay the course.

    November 5, 2013 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  3. Rudy NYC

    Folks got there money's worth.

    November 5, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  4. Rick McDaniel

    Now that he is spending freely again........including his own parties.........he is happy to allow the public in again...........to pay their homage to celeb status/

    November 5, 2013 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  5. Wow

    Can I get a $50/hr job to stand and do nothing too????

    November 5, 2013 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  6. Al

    Obama is drowning in his lies and since there are people that want to see the peoples White House he's able to show his face and hope they didn't see the news.

    November 5, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  7. Tigas

    Wonder if any of the visitors will get $7 billion, like the $7 bilion he pledged the continent of Africa during the 2013 Obama Sequester instead of keeping the tours open and making sure the bills were paid.

    November 5, 2013 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  8. unc dig

    visitors beware, if you ask where the restrooms are, you may end up in Guantanamo Bay as he has lied to us before.

    Maybe he ought to be working the phones at Obamacare.

    November 5, 2013 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  9. much thunder..little rain

    yea how did you like your 2 wk vacation with pay

    November 5, 2013 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |