white-house-no-toursThe Obama administration announced Tuesday that all public tours of the White House and grounds will be cancelled due to the impact of the sequester‘s automatic budget cuts worth $85 billion which took effect on Friday.

The following statement was issued via email by the White House Visitors Office and is also a recorded White House telephone message:

[box type=”info”] “Due to staffing reductions resulting from sequestration, we regret to inform you that White House Tours will be cancelled effective Saturday, March 9, 2013, until further notice. Unfortunately, we will not be able to reschedule affected tours,” [/box]

Citizens can apply to tour limited areas of the White House and grounds through their respective members of Congress. Foreigners must  contact their country’s embassies in order to applying for a tour.

The White House has repeatedly warned that sequester would have a deep impact on government programs but republicans in congress insist that the Obama administration is exaggerating the severity of the cuts and the tour cancellation is simply a publicity stunt designed to make the sequester unpopular in an attempt to pin the blame for it on Congress.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) issued a statement proclaiming that the Capitol building is still open to the public and suggested that the White House didn’t plan ahead:

[box type=”bio”] “While I’m disappointed the White House has chosen to comply with sequestration by cutting public tours, I’m pleased to assure you that public tours of the United States Capitol will continue. Planning for the possibility of sequestration has been underway for some time and alternative spending reductions have been implemented within the Capitol complex to ensure public tours and other regular activities can proceed as they normally would.”[/box]