White House says ‘no more tours’ until Congress agrees to end sequester

By Emily Mullen
Tuesday, March 5, 2013 17:47 EDT
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resident Barack Obama runs along the Colonnade of the White House with Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough's children, Jan. 25, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza on Flickr)
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This afternoon, Roll Call reported that the White House will no longer be giving tours to the public due to budget cuts that resulted from the sequester.

White House officials said they’re cancelling tours due to staffing reductions resulting from sequestration. White House Budget ranking member Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., said the decision was a necessary part of the sequester.

“This is what happens when you cut the budget so deeply and so quickly, as opposed to how we’ve done it,” he said. “You’re going to see disruptions increasing.”

Members of Congress are unhappy with the closing of the White House tours, complaining that ending such perks is just part of the administration’s strategy to shut down popular services until the sequester is reversed. But Congress is also being forced to make cutbacks to member and committee office budgets and security.

The sequester, which went into effect on March 1st, includes some $85 billion in automatic cuts in government spending. The cuts were part of a 2011 agreement between the Republican-led Congress and the president intended to eventually resolve a larger budgetary dispute between the two sides. Having failed to resolve the larger debates about government spending and taxation in the intervening 18 months, the automatic budget cuts both sides originally felt would force them to come to some agreement instead went into effect.

[Image via the White House Flickr]

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