Cutting W.H. tours will save Secret Service $2 million
March 7th, 2013
06:45 PM ET
10 years ago

Cutting W.H. tours will save Secret Service $2 million

(CNN) - The U.S. Secret Service told CNN Thursday that the plan to end all White House public tours beginning March 9 will help the agency save $74,000 per week.

This accounts for the costs of paying 37 uniformed officers $50 an hour for 40 hours a week to secure the tour’s route through the White House East Wing.

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That adds up to roughly $2 million between March 9 and the end of the government’s fiscal year on September 30, which is the time period over which $85 billion needs to be cut from across the federal government’s entire operating budget.

According to the Office of Management and Budget, the Secret Service needs to cut $84 million from a remaining budget of roughly $1.6 billion, meaning that ending public tours of the White House only represents a small fraction of the reductions the agency will have to achieve if forced spending cuts known as ‘sequestration’ remain in effect.

A Secret Service official confirmed that the agency’s protective duties will not be affected by the budget cuts. So in order to reach the mandated levels of spending reduction, the official said that the agency is considering reducing travel, delaying or canceling equipment purchases and even furloughing employees.

“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.”

Critics of the Obama administration were vocal in their opposition to the White House announcement, with many Republicans claiming that the move to cancel tours was a political attempt to make the forced budget cuts as painful as possible for the public. House Speaker John Boehner even quickly issued a statement assuring that tours of the U.S. Capitol would remain open despite the cuts.

"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," the statement said.

Security for Capitol tours is overseen by the Capitol Police, which must cut $17 million from a budget roughly one-fifth the size of the Secret Service’s budget.

Filed under: Debt • Deficit • Secret Service • White House
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Wes

    And the uhbamas golf date with Tiger Woods cost 1 million dollars.

    March 7, 2013 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  2. Former Republican, now an Independent

    So far, the President is the only one actually trying to cut costs, while the house republicans just sit back and run their mouth about it.

    March 7, 2013 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  3. Steve- Illinois

    Ya see? There's some great unintended consequences that come along with cuts. These crossover savings will be happening throughout all departments, and the downside will be minimal.
    Who gets the blame when noone outside the government notices the cuts?

    March 7, 2013 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  4. RJ in CHWY

    Maybe cutting back on the out of town recreation for the POTUS would allow the People's house to remain open to the People? How about it Mr. President, let the people you represent into the house they built.

    March 7, 2013 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  5. kevin grimes

    2 points. One – No manager in the private sector would survive if the first time his budget got clipped, the first place he turned for cuts was to punish customers. Two – Why are they paying $100K per year for tour guides at the White House? Perhaps this is how we get into this kind of fix in the first place. One only wonders how highly compensated are their superiors who sit back in the donut break room away from customer support roles.

    March 7, 2013 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  6. Grady

    This is truly a shame. As a school child, the tour of the White House was the highlight on my trip to Washington DC.

    March 7, 2013 09:10 pm at 9:10 pm |
  7. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    They wanted cuts in the budget. This is what they get when it is done with an axe.

    March 7, 2013 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  8. Carl

    Take a VIRTUAL TOUR; it is more convenient and FREE.

    March 7, 2013 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  9. ThinkAgain: We don't have a spending problem; we have a Republican problem.

    I visited D.C. about 1.5 years ago and got tickets for the White House tour. We didn't make it happen, since we were so visiting all the museums and monuments. I wish we had made it a priority to go!

    March 7, 2013 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  10. Beefburger

    It is an illegal act to close the White House to The People of The United States of America.

    March 7, 2013 11:52 pm at 11:52 pm |
  11. freedom

    If they're worried about secret service fees, then the first family should stay nearby the Whtie House for the next four years so they don't have to be traveling with them to exotic far-off lands. The White House is the people's house. It doesn't belong to the Obama's. They can cut unnecessary secret service fees elsewhere – like on golf courses and ski slopes. Obama closing the doors of the White House to the citizens of this country is very symbolic and telling – and wrong. The children being turned away will always remember that Obama is the president who wouldn't let them in the White House.

    March 8, 2013 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  12. HenryMiller

    And Obama's vacations have apparently cost the country $20 million.

    There ought to be a law requiring Presidents to reimburse the taxpayers for the costs of personal and political travel like vacations and making campaign speeches–and if they can't afford the $20 million, they can bloody well stay home.

    March 8, 2013 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  13. nathan

    A cuts a cut.

    March 8, 2013 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
  14. Getoverit

    Awesome. that's 2.35% of the $85 billion that we apparently pay for self guided tours. $84,998,000,000.00 to go. I guess we can't find that savings anywhere else!

    March 8, 2013 01:18 am at 1:18 am |
  15. Plm931

    Customs wait times increasing (second largest revenue producer after IRS). Border Patrol cut. Due to sequestration. Yet Boener and the Republicans think it is vital that tours of the Capital stay running. Talk about having the wrong priorities!

    March 8, 2013 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  16. Rodney

    Two things, first the officers that escort visitors get paid $50.00 an hour? Even if that is the cost including benefits it seems a little much! Second Obama could cut a couple of golf trips, save just as much money, and keep the tours open!

    March 8, 2013 04:23 am at 4:23 am |
  17. obama is Out Of Touch with reality

    cutting weekly obama parties and golf will save $85billion

    March 8, 2013 06:40 am at 6:40 am |
  18. James Bond

    $50 an hour huh? must be union, ha ha, just kidding, unions are not the monsters the repubs want you to believe, the unions were the ones who got hosed at hostess, they stole union dues, never paying the union dues collected from checks, wrote golden parachutes, and blamed the union. i have noticed that what ever the repubs are telling you the dems are doing, its really what htey are doiing. the truth seems to be the last thing you hear from msm, shameless

    March 8, 2013 06:43 am at 6:43 am |
  19. James Bond

    And i was just thinking of a tour this year,...... cough cough... no thanks, the thought of being that close to the political machine that grins my paycheck every week, my bonus, ect. i didnt realize that many people actually took tours, oh well, move along kids, mr wonkas not coming out today

    March 8, 2013 06:48 am at 6:48 am |