Any Chance of the ‘People’s House’ Reopening to Tours?
Administration stands firm on sequestration reaction while lawmakers — and schoolkids — try to fight back.
March 15, 2013 - 12:02 am
Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) on Thursday introduced an amendment to the Senate continuing resolution to force the White House to reopen its doors by transferring $2.5 million from the Transportation Security Administration budget to the Secret Service.
“Cancelling White House tours is an unnecessary and unfair way for the Department of Homeland Security to meet its budget-cutting obligations – particularly if the necessary savings can be found elsewhere within the department,” Moran said. “TSA can absorb this cut – just last week they signed a $50 million contract for new outfits.”
Congress has taken some modest steps to comply with the sequestration requirements — closing a few entry ways into the Capitol as well as some doors to House and Senate office buildings. But the building remains accessible.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) used the words of First Lady Michelle Obama to take an ironic swing at the decision. She is quoted in a page on the White House web site as saying, “It’s the ‘People’s House.’ It’s a place that is steeped in history, but it’s also a place where everyone should feel welcome. And that’s why my husband and I have made it our mission to open up the house to as many people as we can.”
“During these tough economic times many Americans have planned, saved and scrimped enough funds to make their way to the nation’s capital this spring,” Gohmert said. “It is more than troublesome that our president is standing in the way of families and lifelong memories. President Obama has often called for solidarity in his speeches. Now is the time for our commander in chief to lead the way.”
Even Donald Trump, the wealthy developer who considered staging his own campaign for president last year, first as a Republican and then as an independent before abandoning the idea, has entered the fray.
During an appearance on Fox and Friends, the early-morning program on the Fox News channel, the man they call “The Donald” offered to pick up the tab through the end of the fiscal year, which concludes on Sept. 30.
“It sounds reasonable to me — why not?” Trump said. “It’s certainly not a lot of money. The big thing is that the country is going to lose a trillion dollars this year. Closing the White House tours is not exactly the biggest thing on the agenda.”
No word on whether the White House is considering the offer.
Carney insisted the problem could have been avoided “if Congress had taken action to delay the sequester in the very same way they took action two months ago — two and a half months ago, to delay the sequester to avoid just this kind of outcome.”
“We’re talking about pay cuts and overtime cuts or a choice to suspend tours,” Carney said. “And I’m not suggesting it’s a happy choice, but it is one that we had to make.”