Locals heading to D.C. upset about end of White House tours

First the federal government cut Bradley Beers’ pay by 20 percent. Now it’s messing up his vacation.

Beers, a civilian employee at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, is one of thousands of tourists planning to come to Washington, D.C., for spring break. Like others, he hoped to visit the White House during his visit. But President Barack Obama, citing mandatory budget cuts, will shut down White House tours starting March 9.

The White House said doing so will save the federal government some $74,000 a week.

To Beers, 25, of Kettering, it’s a bitter pill to swallow: He already faces furloughs as a civilian employee at the base.

“It’s almost as if they are making this as harmful and painful as possible as they can to push the point that no single dollar of federal spending can be cut ever,” he said. He still plans to go to Washington next month, he said, but will have to adjust his plans.

Tracy Babal, an administrative assistant at the University of Dayton, will also be tweaking her vacation. Like Beers, she had received White House tickets courtesy of Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton. But unlike Beers, who is traveling with his wife, she’ll have to disappoint five of her six children – all who plan to make the trip with her at the end of this month.

Her youngest, Katie, 8, was particularly disappointed. Katie is “fascinated” by the White House. “She probably knows more about the 44 presidents than anyone else,” she said.

Katie has an app on her phone with quizzes about the presidents. She can tell you which ones were left-handed. Breaking the news to her, Babal said, was difficult.

“She said, ‘but Mom, that’s the house of all the presidents – it’s not just his house,’” Babal said. “I said, ‘you’re right, Katie.’”

Babal is also personally disappointed. She has never visited Washington, D.C., and planned her trip after her sister and brother-in-law took on a one-year stint in D.C. Babal has been planning the trip since last August. “I just want to see everything you hear about from history,” she said. “So I’ve been looking forward to it.”

She said she still plans to visit other Washington, D.C. tourist spots, including the Capitol and the Vietnam Memorial Wall. The closure “is not going to stop me from having a good time,” she said.

Turner’s office has been notifying those who they have arranged White Hosue trips for that they have been cancelled, and reminding them that tours of the Capitol are still available.

But Beers wishes that the budget could’ve been cut “in a more reasonable manner.”

“I was already extremely frustrated due to the 20 percent pay cut,” he said. “For them to cancel the White House tour is kind of the cherry on top.”

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