Republicans have criticized the president's decision to cancel White House tours, with the Obama administration saying the Secret Service had to scale back operations because of the sequester. Earlier this week, the president said he hoped to reopen the executive mansion to school tours, but no decision has been made.

"The Secret Service, like every other agency, is confronted with significant budget cuts and had to make decisions about how those imposed cuts would affect their personnel," White House spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday. "And rather than asking for more furloughs, asking agents who are sworn to defend the lives of their protectees in service of their country, and asking for more pay cuts, they made the decision that they could not staff these tours, which are very labor-intensive for obvious reasons. But it's very unfortunate."