WASHINGTON – White House tours will resume in early November, a White House official confirmed Friday to The Huffington Post.
The tours, which were canceled in March as a result of sequestration, will begin again on Nov. 5 on a reduced schedule. Instead of five days a week, the tours will run for three days a week.
Additionally, the White House will open its gardens and grounds to visitors on Oct. 26 and 27.
The Secret Service was behind the nixed tours. To cope with budget cuts, they opted to reassign officers normally in charge of the tours to other security posts around the White House.
Robert Novy, a spokesman for the Secret Service, explained how they managed to come up with the funds to resume the tours.
"Sequestration came midway through the fiscal year and we were unable to reallocate remaining funds while ensuring funds remained for operations and avoided furloughing employees," Novy said. "In light of the new fiscal year, the Secret Service is confident that through the new [funding bill] we can operate at reduced funding levels while still meeting our operational requirements."
Still, one Secret Service official -- who requested anonymity in order to speak candidly -- emphasized to HuffPost that the tours are reduced and only guaranteed through Jan. 15, when the current government-funding bill runs out. If Congress doesn't pass another bill by then, the Secret Service will need to reassess whether it has the resources to continue the tours while still carrying out its "mission critical operations."
Republicans for months decried the canceled tours as a publicity stunt by President Barack Obama -- cutting a visible, popular service to make a point about the need to replace sequestration -- and demanded that the White House come up with other ways to cut costs. Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) even proposed an amendment to a GOP budget bill to prevent the government from paying for President Barack Obama's golf trips in exchange for getting the tours back.
Notably, many of the same Republicans who fumed about the shuttered White House tours also voted for sequestration. Their outrage has been far less visible on some of the far more damaging effects of sequestration, the least of which include major cuts to Head Start programs, impacting more than 57,000 kids; critical NIH research projects and Meals on Wheels, canceling food deliveries for elderly Americans.
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