White House resumes tours

Posted by Lesley Clark on October 18, 2013 

View of the Oval Office from the White House Rose Garden

LESLEY CLARK

The White House announced today it will resume a "limited schedule" of East Wing and executive residence tours, beginning on November 5th. The tours had been largely cancelled in March -- as one of the most high-profile consequences of across the board budget cuts that took effect earlier this year.

In a statement, the White House said it also will be opening its gardens and grounds to visitors on October 26th and 27th.

A spokesman for the Secret Service told the Huffington Post that it was "confident" that through the new budget law Obama signed Wednesday night that it can "operate at reduced funding levels while still meeting our operational requirements."

The tours -- hugely popular with school groups -- were suspended when the so-called sequester kicked in. The across-the-board cuts were the result of a bipartisan deal struck in 2011 to raise the nation’s debt ceiling and Congress agreed that if a 12-member committee failed to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next decade, the cuts would come from government spending.

"Due to staffing reductions resulting from sequestration, we regret to inform you that White House Tours will be canceled effective Saturday, March 9, 2013 until further notice," read an email from the White House Visitors Office. "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."

Republicans howled at the closure, accusing the White House of cutting the most visible elements of government to rally opposition to the sequester cuts. 

Members of the public interested in scheduling a tour of the East Wing and Executive Residence should contact their Member of Congress. 

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