White House defends decision to cancel tours as Iowa 6th-graders say: ‘Please let us visit’

Olivier Knox and Rachel Rose Hartman

A group of Iowa sixth-graders is publicly begging the White House to reverse course on its decision to cancel public tours. White House press secretary Jay Carney defended the decision Thursday as "extremely unfortunate" but said the spending cuts known as the sequester necessitated the move.

The kids from St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Waverly, Iowa make their plea in a brief video on Facebook.

“The White House is our house. Please let us visit,” they say in unison.

“The 6th graders are scheduled to visit the White House on Saturday, March 16, 2013. Their tour has been suspended because of the budget issues in Washington D.C. Click ‘like’ if you want our students to get their tour!” the caption reads. The video was uploaded this week.

The planned school trip to the presidential mansion fell victim to the White House decision to cancel tours in response to automatic government spending cuts.

At the White House press briefing Thursday, Carney said the White House believes cutting tours was the best option offered by the Secret Service to allow the department to continue to "best fulfill its core mission" amid spending cuts. Potential furloughs and cuts in overtime for Secret Service personnel are also being considered, Carney said.

"I’m not suggesting it’s a happy choice, but it is one that we had to make," Carney said.

Carney said the annual White House Easter Egg Roll—an event staffed by Secret Service—"as of now" will continue as planned April 1.

(hat tip: the New York Observer's Politicker blog.)