Congressional Republicans are now unhappy with the self-induced automatic budget cuts took that took effect nearly two weeks ago. Most recently, Republicans were in uproar over the canceled White House tours, and congressional Republicans are pressuring President Obama to open their doors to visitors.
After multiple offers to pay for the tours and Republican chastising the administration for pulling a publicity stunt to turn the public against the budget cuts, 14 Republican senators have sent a letter to the president demanding more information about the White House’s decision.
Sen. John Thune, who wrote on their behalf, echoed Rep. Louie Gohmert’s amendment hoping to prevent any government money going towards the president’s golf trips.
“Self-guided tours at the White House are not the kind of duplicative and wasteful spending that we should be looking to target and the suspension of these tours reeks of political calculation,” said Sen. Thune. “Instead of closing the doors of the White House to the American public, the president should look to cut his own wasteful golf outings and frivolous spending.”
While 700,000 jobs are currently being threatened, and looming cuts will be made to housing, early childhood education, disaster relief, and national security programs, Republicans may need to be reminded of serious examples of the sequester that are taking shape throughout the country.
- National Archives tours will be canceled
- 418 people at the Army depot in PA have lost their jobs over the sequester and 5,100 are being furloughed
- More than 1,000 Indiana military technicians will lose a day of pay every week between April and September
- Audit agency that helped save federal government $4.2 billion last year will become weakened
- Nevada Forest Service will lose 500 fire fighters and 50 fewer engines with crews
- Aid and meals for the elderly in Georgia will be cut $350,000
- 150 NASA jobs in Ohio are at risk with 10 - 15 personnel already cut
- A U.S. Geological Survey science camp ended due to sequestration
- A Kentucky hospital fired 28 people
- 17 Iowa teachers may lose their jobs
- Close to 200 defense contractors in Jacksonville, Fl. at risk of losing jobs
- Nearly 240 air traffic control towers across the country will shut down
- Wisconsin’s unemployed will become affected
- Washington-area transit system will lose about $8 million in funding
- Sequester will devastate U.S. science research for decades
In an interview with CNBC last week, Speaker John Boehner blamed the president’s decision for making “it tough on members of Congress.”
“It’s just silly. I want to know who is being laid off at the White House. The Capitol is open for tours. We’ve been planning for this for months,” said Boehner.
This week, President Obama told ABC’s George Stephanopolous that there are worse budget choices than cancelling White House tours.
STEPHANOPOULOS: You’ve been takin’ a lotta heat for this cancellation of the White House tours. They get – the Secret Service says it’s costs about $74,000 a week. Was canceling them really necessary?
OBAMA: You know, I have to say this was not – a decision that went up to the White House. What the Secret Service explained to us was that they’re gonna have to furlough some folks. What furloughs mean is that people lose a day of work and a day of pay. And, you know, the question for them is, you know, how deeply do they have to furlough their staff and is it worth it to make sure that we’ve got White House tours, that means that you got a whole bunch of families who are depending on a paycheck who suddenly are seeing…
STEPHANOPOULOS: So no reconsideration?
OBAMA: …a 5% or 10%- reduction in their pay.
Reponding to cuts in his home state, Sen. John Thune questioned whether the National Park Service was making a political move by closing a campground at Wind Cave National Park in southwestern South Dakota. Thune sent a letter to National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis, accusing him of publicizing the cuts and asked whether the park service is “just another agency following the White house’s lead in trying to find the cuts that can trigger a press release before looking to internal cost-saving measures that are less newsworthy.”
White House press secretary Jay Carney responded to the news of congressional members starting to witness the effects in their home districts and states. “[T]here are real impacts out there. And it’s an unfortunate result of the arbitrary, across-the-board nature of the sequester cuts. That was the—I use this term facetiously—the genius in the design of the sequester—it was written in a way to make it terrible. That was the purpose. Republicans and Democrats alike wrote it that way so that it would be so onerous that it would compel Congress to take alternative action to reduce our deficit in a more responsible way. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. And unfortunately, Republicans in Congress made the choice not to postpone the implementation of the sequester.”
It’ll be up to both Democrats and Republicans to reach an agreement over how to keep the government operating after funding runs out on March 27.