Cuts mean no public White House tours

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The White House said on Tuesday that all public tours of the US presidential mansion and grounds would be cancelled because of the impact of automatic budget cuts which came into force last week.

"Due to staffing reductions resulting from sequestration, we regret to inform that White House tours will be cancelled effective Saturday March 9, 2013, until further notice," a recorded White House telephone message said.

"Unfortunately, we will not be able to reschedule affected tours. We very much regret having to take this action, particularly during the popular spring tour season." Americans can apply to tour limited areas of the White House and its grounds through their members of Congress. Foreigners have to contact their country's embassies before applying for a tour.

Automatic and arbitrary budget cuts worth US$85 billion (S$105.9 billion) came into force on Friday, following the failure of President Barack Obama and Republicans to find an alternative way to cut the deficit.

The White House has warned that eventually the cuts, which could cost hundreds of thousands of jobs, will have a deep impact, though Republicans accuse the president of exaggerating the likely toll.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.