Senate rejects Coburn's amendment to restore tours of White House

The Senate rejected an amendment to the continued spending resolution from Sen. Tom CoburnTom CoburnRyan calls out GOP in anti-poverty fight The Trail 2016: Words matter Ex-Sen. Coburn: I won’t challenge Trump, I’ll vote for him MORE (R-Okla.) that would have provided funds to reopen the White House to public tours.

His amendment failed on a 45-54 vote Wednesday as the Senate considers the $984 billion spending bill to fund the government after March 27.

Coburn’s amendment 93 would have restored funding for public tours to the White House and other national parks by shifting money from a Heritage Area account that the administration had even targeted for spending reductions.

ADVERTISEMENT
The White House announced earlier this month that it would be forced to stop public White House tours in order to cut costs because of the sequester. Republicans have criticized the decision, saying it politicized the sequester cuts by making them hurt American families during the busy D.C. tourist season.

“President Obama has called on Congress to take action to avoid the harmful effects of sequestration,” Coburn said. “This amendment uses the administration’s own recommendations to reduce funding for lower-priority Heritage Areas and shifts those funds to protect and restore access to the White House and our national parks and monuments.”

Coburn’s amendment would have cut $8 million from the Heritage Areas fund, which he says pays for wine trains, Elvis cruises and Ukrainian Easter Egg workshops. His amendment would then provide $5 million of that $8 million cut to restart tours of the White House and make improvements to national parks, including the Flight 93 National Memorial visitors’ center.

Sen. Jack ReedJack ReedOvernight Finance: McConnell offers 'clean' funding bill | Dems pan proposal | Flint aid, internet measure not included | More heat for Wells Fargo | New concerns on investor visas Senate Dems call for investigation into Wells Fargo's wage practices Week ahead: Negotiators near deal on defense bill MORE (D-R.I.) said Coburn's amendment would not solve the White House tour problem since that funding comes from the Secret Service budget, not the national parks' budget.

"This amendment doesn’t provide a real fix in respect to national park funding," Reed said ahead of the vote. "Those tours are governed by the Secret Service budget, not national parks."

Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiOvernight Energy: Obama integrates climate change into national security planning GOP pressures Kerry on Russia's use of Iranian airbase Overnight Energy: Lawmakers kick off energy bill talks MORE (R-Alaska) voted against Coburn's amendment. Sen. Angus KingAngus KingWells CEO Stumpf resigns from Fed advisory panel Pentagon chief: 9/11 bill could be used against US troops GOP chairman: White House ‘running rogue’ on water rule MORE (I-Maine), who caucuses with the Democrats, voted for the amendment, along with Sen. Max BaucusMax BaucusChina moves to lift ban on US beef Overnight Healthcare: Zika fight stalls government funding talks | Census finds big drop in uninsured | Mental health bill faces wait Glover Park Group now lobbying for Lyft MORE (D-Mont.).

The Senate is considering the continued spending resolution, negotiated by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara MikulskiBarbara MikulskiBlack Caucus demands Flint funding from GOP GOP puts shutdown squeeze play on Dems Overnight Finance: McConnell offers 'clean' funding bill | Dems pan proposal | Flint aid, internet measure not included | More heat for Wells Fargo | New concerns on investor visas MORE (D-Md.) and ranking member Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), that funds the government for the remainder of the fiscal year. Final passage is expected later Wednesday. The House and Senate have to agree to the bill by March 27 in order to avoid a government shutdown.