In an interview yesterday with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, President Obama suggested that he might make an effort to restore tours of the White House — which his administration had canceled in response to sequester cuts — on a limited basis. He emphasized that the decision had come from the Secret Service, but he said he would ask them to consider finding a way to “accommodate school groups” who “may have traveled here with some bake sales.” The exchange is below.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: One more question about the spending cuts. 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?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: You know, I have to say this was not– a decision that went up to the White House. But th– what the Secret Service explained to us was that they’re gonna have to furlough some folks. What furloughs mean is– 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 seein’–
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So no reconsideration?
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: –a 5% or 10%– reduction in their pay. Well, what I’m asking them is are there ways, for example, for us to accommodate school groups– you know, who may have traveled here with some bake sales. Can we make sure that– kids, potentially, can– can still come to tour?
The full transcript of the interview is here.