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President Barack Obama says he’s asking the U.S. Secret Service to find a way to let school groups tour the White House after visits were canceled as a result of automatic budget cuts that began March 1.
“What I’m asking them is, ‘Are there ways for us to accommodate school groups who may have traveled here?’” Obama said in an interview broadcast today on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “Can we make sure that kids potentially can still come to tour?”
Because of the budget cuts, the Secret Service said it has had to furlough some agents, including some who oversee security-screening procedures for people touring the executive mansion.
The White House is a popular stop for tourists visiting the U.S. capital, particularly during school spring breaks. Tickets are distributed through congressional offices, so lawmakers will have to turn away home-district voters who are seeking the tours.
The cancellation of tours won’t affect the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on April 1.
The across-the-board cuts, known as sequestration, are forcing government agencies to reduce spending. The law requires the government to trim $85 billion for the rest of this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, distributed evenly between defense and non-defense discretionary spending.
With assistance from Lisa Lerer in Washington. Editors: Leslie Hoffecker and Mark Silva.
To contact the reporter on this story: Roger Runningen in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org. To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at email@example.com.