White House cancels tours, citing sequester

The White House has canceled tours until further notice, the White House Visitors Office confirmed, citing sequester cuts.


(Haraz N. Ghanbari/AP)

Tours will continue through Friday, March 8. All tours for March 9 and onward have been canceled and will not be rescheduled due to "staffing reductions resulting from sequestration," the office says. 

"We very much regret having to take this action, particularly during the popular Spring touring season," the office's statement reads.

Some Republicans are skeptical.

“They just jumped the sharquester,” said John Hart, a spokesman for Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). Coburn has long highlighted ways the federal government could cut back on what he considers needless spending. But in this case, he's opposed to the White House’s decision.

“It’s clearly a PR ploy,” Hart said. “They can tour the country on the taxpayer’s dime but can’t allow taxpayers to tour the White House?  Seriously?”

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), agreed. "This decision appears to be purely political in nature rather than being in the best interest of the American people," he said in a letter to Obama.

The White House has been highlighting cuts from the sequester in order to put pressure on congressional Republicans to compromise on ending tax loopholes.

"We are going to manage it as best we can, try to minimize the impacts on American families, but it’s not the right way for us to go about deficit reduction,” President Obama said Monday.

Not every administration claim has held up. Our Factchecker dinged Education Secretary Arne Duncan for saying over the weekend that teachers are already being laid off thanks to the sequester, and Obama himself for saying janitors in the Capitol will get a pay cut.

House Republicans introduced a bill Monday that would avoid a government shutdown at the end of the month and shift some spending cuts while leaving in place the $85 billion spending reduction that went into effect March 1.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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Rachel Weiner · March 5, 2013