Sure, the White House is home to President Barack Obama. But it’s also kind of viewed as America’s house, leading tourists from around the country — as well as the world — to sign up for free tours to view the premises. You never know when you could catch a glimpse of the First Family, or heck, maybe even their dog, Bo. But after March 8, the administration says those tours are going bye-bye as a result of budget cuts.
Sequestration is spoiling the fun, the White House says in an email sent to various media outlets last night:
“Due to staffing reductions resulting from sequestration, we regret to inform you that White House Tours will be cancelled effective Saturday, March 9, 2013, until further notice. Unfortunately, we will not be able to reschedule affected tours.”
NBCNews adds that there’s also a recording on the phone line for White House tours alerting potential visitors to the change:
“Due to staffing reductions resulting from sequestration, we regret to inform you that White House tours will be canceled effective Saturday March 9th, 2013 until further notice,” the recording says. “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.”
An official with the Secret Service told NBC News that the tours have been canceled because the Uniformed Division Officers who secure the tours have been reassigned to other security posts within the White House. This is intended to cut overtime costs and ultimately reduce the number of furloughs the Secret Services could be facing.
With the White House tours off the table, House Administration Committee Chair Candice Miller, R-Mich. issued a statement inviting tourists to check out the Capitol instead.
“I believe closing the doors of the White House to the American people is wrong,” she wrote. “I want to let those Americans planning a trip to Washington, D.C. know that the Capitol will remain open and encourage those wishing to visit to contact their member of Congress or the Capitol Visitors Center to schedule a tour.”
White House cancels tours, citing sequester [NBC News]