Spending cuts close doors on White House tours
March 5th, 2013
03:59 PM ET
10 years ago

Spending cuts close doors on White House tours

Washington (CNN) - Visitors to Washington D.C. hoping to take a tour of the White House will soon be out of luck. The White House Visitor Center has canceled all tours effective Saturday March 9, a move meant to cut costs in the wake of forced spending cuts that hit the entire federal government last Friday.

An automated message at the visitor center's hotline informed callers of the news on Tuesday.

"Due to staffing reductions resulting from sequestration we regret to inform that White House tours will be canceled effective Saturday March 9, 2013 until further notice," the message said. "Unfortunately we will not be able to reschedule affected tours."

A White House spokesman said this is the first consequence of the forced budget cuts on the White House. The reductions will hit Secret Service staffing and staffing at the visitors office that processes the names of tour participants.

Below is the email sent to lawmakers on Capitol Hill:

ATTN Interested Parties,

Due to staffing reductions resulting from sequestration, we regret to inform you that White House Tours will be canceled effective Saturday, March 9, 2013 until further notice. Unfortunately, we will not be able to reschedule affected tours.

We very much regret having to take this action, particularly during the popular spring touring season. For updates regarding this situation, please contact the White House Visitors Office 24 Hour Hotline at (202) 456-7041.

White House Visitors Office

Max Milien, a spokesman for the Secret Service, said officers normally assigned to tours will be reassigned to other security posts at the White House.

"This staffing measure will reduce overtime costs overall and may ultimately reduce the number of potential furloughs necessary by our agency,” Milien said.

The Secret Service has been developing a plan to deal with the cuts and maintains that the agency's protective duties will not be affected, according to a Secret Service official.

Public, self-guided tours of the White House's East Wing are generally offered Tuesday through Saturday. Visitors can get tickets from their representative in Congress, and if they're lucky, they may even run into the president or first lady, who've both been known to personally greet visitors on occasion.

Hoping to reverse the decision, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, submitted an amendment to the continuing resolution that would prohibit the president from using federal funds to transport to or from a golf course until the White House resumes public tours.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich echoed that call on Twitter.

[tweet https://twitter.com/newtgingrich/status/309057239283531778%5D

As he returned to the White House Tuesday after visiting wounded veterans at a Washington hospital, President Barack Obama did not respond to shouted questions about the tours being canceled.

House Speaker John Boehner, meanwhile, confirmed that tours at the Capitol would still continue.

"While I’m disappointed the White House has chosen to comply with sequestration by cutting public tours, I’m pleased to assure you that public tours of the United States Capitol will continue," Boehner said in a statement.

Filed under: President Obama • White House
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Guy

    Lets hope he grounds Air Force One, too. Did you ever think how much it costs to run that thing to take Obama to his next golf vacation?

    March 5, 2013 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  2. Donna

    Well, looks like Obama is going the route of making the sequestrian cuts painful and visible. And that will only make him look like an idiot and a villian when all the other wasteful spending the government does, which he is not cutting, gets spread across the airwaves. Of course, it won't be by his lackeys in the Obama Propoganda Networks. It'll have to be done by Fox News, the only one left that doesn't smooch Obama's back side.

    March 5, 2013 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  3. just sayin

    looks like obama didn't learn anything from over playing his hand over the last few weeks with all the dire predictions. now he's going to actually hurt people to stop any further spending cuts. this guy is dangerous. i can't believe american were stupid enough to re-elect him.

    March 5, 2013 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  4. critical thinking

    Caption under picture : Now little one, you owe me $50,000 to help payoff my debts, so have your mommy write me a check before she leaves the white house today.

    March 5, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  5. PatheticCNN

    President Obama is positioning himself to be The First & Last Black president America will ever have.

    March 5, 2013 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  6. freedom

    This is BS! The White House belongs to the people of this country – you can't shut the doors on the people. And the TSA will allow knives on planes now. This president wants to destroy us as a nation and put us all in harm's way. And this was HIS idea. And great idea from Rep. Gohmert – we're not paying for any more golf outings or vacations to Aspen or Hawaii. Better idea – impeach!

    March 5, 2013 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  7. groinksan

    Too bad people can't visit for free. Now it will only them cost $500,000 each to access the White House.

    March 5, 2013 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  8. Melissa

    No comment on the article itself, but PLEASE Moms and Dads, do NOT where your baby facing out in the Ergo! Structured carriers like this one are specifically designed for your little one to face your body (either on your front or back).

    March 5, 2013 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  9. nonyabidnes2

    No visits to washington,D.C.. Who wants to go there and watch an inept congress do nothing. I say close down everything there and let's start over. This country is only 237 years old. How did we get to where we are TOO BIG for our britches?? Simole answer, we let congress dictate what we do. The time is now for the tail to wag the dog..

    March 5, 2013 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  10. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, submitted an amendment to the continuing resolution that would prohibit the president from using federal funds to transport to or from a golf course until the White House resumes public tours
    Is right?
    Trying to hold the President of the United States of America hostage? Is it not enough that you're holding the country hostage?
    GTFOOH Rep. Gohmert Pyle of Doodoo.

    March 5, 2013 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  11. Borderless

    Wow. Obama just has no shame. None at all. Could he be more obvious? Why do I picture Randy from South Park saying "Nomygod!" in reaction to this silliness? Oh, because it's silliness. Hey Obama, man up and lead or get out of office!

    March 5, 2013 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  12. KM

    For both democrats and republicans, if you want spending cuts then live with the consequences of those spending cuts. If that means no White House tours or whatever due to budget contraints, then stand by your convictions and explain to the American people that here is the decision you made on their behalf and these are the results.

    March 5, 2013 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  13. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Since the White House has to cut back on services, I don't see why Congress shouldn't as well. How about no pay for Congress until they fix this problem that they self manufactured. Although that's not legally possible, congressional members should furlough themselves.

    March 5, 2013 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  14. Jimmy

    Instead of canceling the White House tours (which I thought was the people's house), why not take back some of the 250 mil we just gave to Egypt or have The President cancel some trips on Air Force One

    March 5, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  15. BlkPwr817

    This is only the begining of the end for the GOP. Crazy how it hasn't sinked in that they indeed LOST the election last November. And if there isn't change starting w/ super weasel Reince Priebus, the GOP will continuew to lose. Thats even after they try to doctor up the next election...lol When will they learn?

    March 5, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  16. NJC8312

    "Hoping to reverse the decision, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, submitted an amendment to the continuing resolution that would prohibit the president from using federal funds to transport to or from a golf course until the White House resumes public tours."

    You've got to be kidding me... ignorant freaking GOPers. Do we really have nothing better to do? This is why we can't get a budget passed. The GOP is too busy trying to take petty ridiculous stabs at the President to focus on the real issues. Childish babies...

    March 5, 2013 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  17. b

    if this wasn't true, it would be hilarious. This is the most petty man in the world. and you voted for him to be president. smh.

    March 5, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  18. Getoverit

    Look what the mean old Republicans did! We can't afford to give tours of the White house. But no worries, Egypt still has tours.

    March 5, 2013 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  19. Borderless

    Just heard that some Venezuelan coke addict and co-member of Obama's book club has died. Obama will miss the support.

    March 5, 2013 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  20. Borderless

    Getoverit: Nice!

    March 5, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  21. Captain Awesome

    What a drama queen our president is. This is all for show. There's plenty of wasteful spending that can be cut from the budget. How about cutting back on a few golfing trips with celebrities like Tiger Woods? But the president chooses to take the moral low-ground instead. Next we'll be seeing the photo op with crying children who's parents got laid off because of those mean Republicans. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain and Wake up, America!

    March 5, 2013 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  22. anoel2005

    Obama campaigned ( lied ) on getting the waste out of the govt. ( among other promises which were broken). Obama should stop bashing Republicans and just get to work. One can tell that he was a parentless kid growing up.

    Example of waste : "... two USDA-sponsored conferences are coming up despite the budget anxiety in Washington over the sequester. One in California includes a "tasting reception;" another in Oregon includes a "wine tasting" element, according to Senator Coburn. "

    March 5, 2013 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  23. Wes

    Boy, our little dictator in chief is really acting like a spoiled brat. The sequester was his idea, and now he makes everyone suffer. Pathetic.

    March 5, 2013 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  24. anoel2005

    Obama said the sequester was the idea of Repubs and that it wouldn't happen.

    All the while, Jay Carney later admitted, the idea came from the White House. In short , Obama lied. That's why his job approval rating dropped about 5 pts. in the last few days..

    March 5, 2013 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  25. Lynda/Minnesota

    Good grief. The things that make the GOP stand up and take notice are ... well, not exactly impressive. Just think ... a few misguided wars ... nada response. Closing White House tours and golf trips. Now that's something GOPerville really can sink its teeth into.

    March 5, 2013 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |