Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 21, 2014

Boehner’s Tours of Duty

So you came to the nation’s capital and you’re disappointed to learn that the White House is no longer offering public tours, a casualty of the sequester.

Never fear: Cruise director John A. Boehner has a backup activity the kids will love.

“I’m pleased to assure you that public tours of the United States Capitol will continue,” the Ohio Republican and Speaker wrote in a letter to his constituents on Wednesday. “I encourage you and your family to visit the U.S. Capitol during your trip to Washington, D.C.”

Although any who can pass through a metal detector can make their way under the Dome, scheduling a tour of the Capitol through one’s member of Congress provides access to areas otherwise verboten to the average Joe or Jane — such as the tunnels between buildings or the Rayburn subway.

The White House has a certain je ne sais quoi as the workplace/residence of the president of the United States, and the screening process for getting inside is a bit more intensive. It also isn’t currently home to a government body with the lowest approval rating in memory, even if it is home to some nice Italian frescos and the (in)famous Senate Bean Soup.

But Boehner’s invitation to the people is in all likelihood sincere, and it comes in the wake of Wednesday’s rank-and-file snark-fest response to the White House news.

HOH favorite Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, for instance, wanted the House to vote on an amendment to the continuing resolution to prohibit President Barack Obama from being transported to a golf course until White House tours resume. Boehner was a bit more nuanced — part withering, part passive-aggressive, part humblebrag.

“Under the leadership of the House officers and their teams, who oversee daily operations in the Capitol in consultation with the Office of the Speaker, planning for the possibility of sequestration has been underway for some time,” Boehner wrote. “Consequently, alternative spending reductions have been implemented within the Capitol complex to ensure public tours and other regular activities can proceed as they normally would.

“I’m disappointed the White House has chosen to comply with sequestration by cutting public tours,” he continued. “I’m pleased to assure you that public tours of the United States Capitol will continue.”

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