It was announced this week that starting March 9th, the president will no longer allow tours through the White House. I join the vast majority of Members of Congress and the American people in my irritation with this announcement. Not just because this will be a huge let down for many of our constituents who have planned trips to the DC area and are losing their tour of the White House, but also because these are self-guided tours! That means no tour guides are necessary to complete these tours! So what exactly was being "saved' by cancelling these tours that so many people look forward to when visiting DC?
By Lynn Westmoreland
So my staff and I did some research. As it turns out, the tours were cancelled because of cuts to the Secret Service's budget -- an $84 million cut from their $1.6 billion budget. ABC News did the math and have found that "tours are opened for about 20 hours per week and use 30 uniformed Secret Service offers at about $30 per hour." Under those numbers, the total amount saved by cancelling White House tours is approximately $18,000 per week. When you figure the number of weeks left in the remainder of the year (sequester cuts must occur within 2013), we are talking about a savings of $550,000 -- or .65% of what the Secret Service needs to cut to comply with sequester.
It's starting to look more and more like the president has cancelled these tours as some kind of way to "punish' the American people and Members of Congress for not falling for his fear-mongering about the sequester and letting him spend money however he wants. I think it is a real shame he has resorted to such tactics and I truly hope he reconsiders. After all, the White House is owned and operated by the American people -- I think if they want to visit a house they pay for, they should be able to.
I want to reassure you that the Capitol Building is open for business for all visitors to DC. When determining how we would best handle sequester cuts, Speaker Boehner made certain that tours would continue. If you or any friends or family are visiting Washington DC in the near future, I encourage you to contact Leigh Claffey in my DC office at 202-225-5901 and she will happily help you set up a tour of the Capitol.
If you are as disgusted with the president's plan to cut White House tours as I am, I strongly encourage you to contact the White House and complain. The president shouldn't use White House tours as a pawn in his attempt to continue his out-of-control spending.