(Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)
Fox News anchors Eric Bolling and Sean Hannity are offering to personally pay to keep the White House open to tourists after Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters the sequester is to blame for cancelling school children's spring break tours.
On the cable network's entertainment program, "The Five," Bolling announced that he would pay $74,000 to cover the cost of keeping the White House doors open for one week.
Carney told reporters during Thursday's White House press briefing that: "The Secret Service, like other agencies of government, is affected by the sequester, and the Secret Service presented options – that range from cancelling tours, to potential furloughs and cuts in overtime. Uh, and, in order to allow the Secret Service to best fulfill its core mission, the White House made the decision that we would, unfortunately, have to temporarily suspend these tours."
In response, Bolling challenged Carney and Obama to take him up on his offer: "Let these families take their White House tours next week, and I'll cover the added expenses. Word is it will cost $74,000. If I can get the doors open, I'll pick up the tab! Mr. Carney, I know this is an offer you can't refuse; give me a call."
Earlier that day, the Fox News personality posted a similar message on his Facebook page: "Mr President I will pick up the tab if you reopen White House for tours. Shouldn't the people's house be open?"
This was in response to a Facebook campaign that students from St. Paul's Lutheran School in Waverly, Iowa, posted online after learning that their scheduled White House tour was cancelled by the Obama administration. In the video, the students are holding up signs and pleading with the Administration to reconsider their decision, by saying: "The White House is our house. Please let us visit."
Carney has yet to make that call to Bolling, or Sean Hannity, who joined Bolling in solidarity by announcing that he, too, would chip in to keep the White House open to tourists, many of whom scheduled their tours more than six months in advance.
Late Thursday evening, Hannity posted on Twitter: "@ericbolling great idea! Count me in, I will pay for a week also!"
Hannity said on his program that he wasn't aware that keeping the White House open for one week would cost $74,000, but he would be willing to pay $18,000, which ABC reports as being the total cost of keeping the White House open for one week.
Politico, however, estimates that the tours cost $74,000 a week, to pay for the 37 Secret Service members who are stationed along the route during public tours of the White House.
Either way, Bolling is keeping his offer open, and sent out another message via Twitter Friday morning: "Hey JayCarney @pressec , you going to take me up on my offer to pay to open WhiteHouse? Let's get the word out twitter #OpenTheWhiteHouse"