WASHINGTON – Public tours of the White House, canceled earlier this year because of budget cuts, are resuming next month on a limited basis, officials said Friday in a welcome announcement for the many who found themselves locked out of “the people’s house.”
The self-guided tours of the ground floor, first floor and East Wing of the White House are to resume Nov. 5 and continue through Jan. 15. Tours will be allowed an average of three days a week, down from five, said the Secret Service, which is responsible for White House security.
Separately, the White House said its gardens and grounds will be open to the public on the weekend of Oct. 26-27.
The White House scrapped the tours after mandatory budget cuts took effect in March. The cuts, known as sequestration, affected many government agencies, including the Secret Service, which then told the White House its options included cutting the tours or furloughing officers as a result.
Uniformed Secret Service officers are stationed in rooms along the tour to provide security and help tourists.
The Secret Service said Friday that the tours can resume at a reduced pace under a temporary funding bill President Barack Obama signed Thursday for the budget year that began Oct. 1. The bill fully reopened the government after a 16-day partial shutdown brought on by a spending impasse between the Obama administration and Congress.
That funding runs out Jan. 15, which raises the possibility that the tours could be reduced or canceled again if Obama and lawmakers can’t agree on spending for the remainder of the budget year.