On Tuesday, White House officials announced that due to the recent overhaul of spending cuts, tours of the White House will be suspended starting at the end of the week. According to the U.S. Secret Service, Uniformed Division Officers typically assigned to public tours will be reassigned to other tasks in order to reduce overtime costs and prepare for potential furloughs.
No doubt it’s a bummer of a situation, but who would have thought that the suspension of White House tours would be a hot-button issue?
Well, believe it. Republicans have pounced, alleging that tours cancellations are political theatre. Georgia Congressman Tom Graves released a statement saying, “canceling all self-guided White House tours is the latest shameless political stunt by the president, who is twisting basic government efficiency into an extreme consequence.”
His colleague Louie Gohmert went one step further. On Tuesday, Gohmert took to the House Floor with some potentially tour-saving legislation: “None of the funds made available by a division of this act may be used to transport the president to or from a golf course until public tours of the White House tours resume,” said Gohmert.
While taking a tour of the White House is undoubtedly a fun experience for tourists and schoolchildren alike, it may strike you as odd that Gohmert isn’t railing about the $67.8 million in primary and secondary education funding that his state is slated to lose as a result of the spending cuts. Other states will get hit hard in the form of cuts to military spending and health services.
But if you’ve ever toured the White House, you might recall getting your ticket, free-of-charge, through your member of Congress. So Gohmert and his colleagues now have to explain to their constituents why a trip to the nation’s capital will not include a spin through the White House, and that the disappointment is because Congress failed to reach a deal on the overhaul of spending cuts. In addition, tours that have already been scheduled will not be automatically rescheduled. After all, members of Congress originally voted to impose a deadline for the across-the-board cuts specifically in order to coerce themselves into coming to a deal.
Some members of Congress just got an unexpected dose of accountability. IAnd that’s even more rare than an up-close view of the Lincoln bedroom.