The Senate on Wednesday voted to leave the White House closed to public tours, instead leaving funding in place for government-promoted cookbooks, iPhone apps and winter festivals, according to Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn’s office.
The amendment to reopen the White House for tours, which was introduced by the Oklahoma Republican, would have reduced National Heritage Area funding by $8.1 million and directed $6 million of the savings toward keeping the White House and other National Parks open. It failed by a 54-45 vote.
“In effect, with this vote, the Senate decided the following activities which are promoted by the government-funded NHA’s were more important than redirecting the funds to ensure the public has access to the White House,” a Coburn spokesman explained in an email.
Coburn’s office cited several examples:
•A Battle for Food: Civil War Era Southern Recipe Books- The Atchafalaya National Heritage Area hosted a “Battle for Food: Civil War Era Southern Recipe Books” on March 12, 2013. This cooking program engaged “participants in open hearth cooking using the food stuffs and recipes from the Civil War era that reflect the changes and shortages between 1861 and 1865.” Atchafalaya NHA FY2012 Federal Funding: $147,000
•Tennessee Civil War Iphone App- The Tennessee Civil War National Heritage Area created an IPhone app showing the effects of the Civil War throughout the state. The app features people, places, and artifacts that tell the story of the Civil War in Tennessee. Tennessee Civil War NHA FY2012 Federal Funding: $436,000
•Jim Thorpe WinterFest- The Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor sponsored a Jim Thorpe Winterfest in February, featuring “ice carving demonstrations, wood carving, a magic show and the famous Jim Thorpe Mug Walk.” Delaware and Lehigh NHA FY2012 Federal Funding: $610,000
According to Coburn, the amendment incorporated the Obama administration’s own recommendations for National Heritage Areas.
“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 said in a statement last week.
“It would be unconscionable for the federal government to prioritize wine trains, Elvis cruises and Ukrainian Easter Egg Workshops promoted by Heritage Areas ahead of restoring and protecting public access to places like the White House, the Flight 93 Memorial, the Washington Monument, Yellowstone, Gettysburg, the Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon and dozens of other historically significant destinations,” he added.
Correction: An earlier version of the story, based on Coburn’s report, stated that the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor sponsors a “Hot Tunes at the Winery” events at Crossing Vineyards and Winery. After publication, Crossing Vineyards told The Daily Caller that while the events are advertised on the National Heritage Corridor events calendar, the Corridor does not sponsor them.