US cancels White House tours due to budget cuts
A tour group poses for a photo in front of the White House. The US government has cancelled its visitor tours of the building due to budget cuts. Photo: AFP
The Obama administration is canceling tours of the White House because of staff reductions caused by the automatic budget cuts that began March 1.
A recorded message on the White House visitors office phone line said tours starting on March 9 will be cancelled "until further notice."
The White House is a popular stop for tourists visiting the US capital, particularly during the spring break season. Tickets are distributed through congressional offices, so lawmakers will have to turn away home district voters who are seeking the tours.
Tours that are already planned won't be rescheduled, according to White House officials. The cancellation won't affect the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on April 1.
President Barack Obama and members of his Cabinet have warned government services including air traffic control and meat inspections eventually will have to be cut unless Congress and the administration can agree on a replacement for the automatic spending reductions. Democratic and Republican leaders have indicated they would revisit the reductions after they pass legislation needed to keep the government running beyond March 27.
The across-the-board cuts, known as sequestration, are forcing government agencies to reduce spending. The law requires the government to trim $US85 billion for the rest of this fiscal year, which ends September 30, distributed evenly between defense and non-defense portions of the budget.