The White House Visitors Office 24-hour help line on Tuesday informed callers that starting March 9, tours of the White House will be canceled due to the across-the-board spending cuts ordered by President Barack Obama last Friday in the absence of a federal budget passed by Congress:
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. 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. For updates regarding this situation, please contact the White House Visitors Office 24-hour hotline.
While some critics immediately argued that the savings from canceling tours was negligible, the White House did not cite savings as a chief reason for the decision. Instead, it said the decision was necessitated by staffing reductions.
The White House has been arguing that the sequester will be devastating to the economy and has warned of flight delays, food safety issues, customs and border problems, teacher layoffs and other negative consequences as a result of the cuts. Republicans say Democrats are exaggerating the sequester's impact and agencies can administer spending cuts in a way that won't cripple Americans.
The cancellation of tours creates a potential headache for lawmakers.
Requests and arrangements for White House tours are conducted through visitors' members of Congress.