(CNN) – Saturday morning dawned sunny in Washington, with clear skies and temperatures in the mid-40s – in other words, perfect golf weather.
But President Barack Obama didn’t hit the links, a favorite hobby of his that came under criticism from Republicans in recent days.
He attended his daughter Sasha’s basketball game in the Washington suburb of Chevy Chase, Maryland.
Republicans have argued the money spent on Secret Service protection for a presidential golf outing would be better spent on keeping the White House open for tours, which the Obama administration canceled starting this weekend, citing a need to save money because of the forced spending cuts which kicked in a week ago.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called for the White House to “reopen the White House tours for children.”
“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 said Friday on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, submitted legislation which would make it illegal for Obama to use federal funds for commuting to and from golf outings until the White House resumes tours.
Reopening the White House for tours would only cost "one or two golf trips less" for Obama, he argued.
The Secret Service said canceling public tours for the remainder of the government’s financial year -– through September 30 - would save the government about $2 million. The tours through the White House East Wing require 37 agents at a cost of $74,000 per week, the agency said.
The forced federal spending cuts, known in Washington as sequestration, require the Secret Service to cut more than $84 million from its budget, according to the Office of Management and Budget.
Secret Service spokesman Max Milien said in a statement, "Due to sequestration, Uniformed Division Officers normally assigned to conducting public tours will be reassigned to other security posts at the White House and all tours will be cancelled. This staffing measure will reduce overtime costs overall and may ultimately reduce the number of potential furloughs necessary by our agency."
Republicans have contrasted the White House tour cancelation with House Speaker John Boehner’s plan to keep Capitol Hill open four tours.
"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 Ohio Republican said in a statement.
But access to the Capitol and congressional offices has been cut. House officers said this week they will likely close building entrances and restrict business hours.
When in the nation’s capital, many of Obama’s golf outings are at the nearby Andrews military base. In February, he spent a weekend at a Palm City resort where he golfed with Tiger Woods and Woods’ former coach Butch Harmon.
- CNN’s Adam Aigner-Treworgy, Ashley Killough and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report
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