For the first time since the sequester budget cuts kicked in in March, the White House will be open for public tours starting next month.
Tours of the East Wing and Executive Residence will begin again on a limited basis -- three days per week, instead of five -- on November 5, the administration said in a statement Friday. The grounds and gardens will be open to the public beginning October 26 and 27.
The cancelation of public tours was one of the most visible effects of the across-the-board cuts implemented after a group of members of Congress failed to come to an agreement on more specific reductions. The Administration decided to cut the tours in order to reassign Secret Service officers to other posts in the White House, enabling it to reduce overtime and minimize furlough days.
"Last year's sequestration came midway through the fiscal year, and we were unable to adjust or re-allocate remaining funding to continue tours while still ensuring enough funding remained to meet all operational needs and avoid furloughing our employees," said Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary. "In light of the new fiscal year, the Secret Service is confident that through the continuing resolution tours can operate at a reduced level while still meeting operational requirements.
But because the agreement this week to fund the government only lasts through January 15, the fate of the White House tours will once again be up in the air come next year.