First lady Melania Trump said Tuesday the always-popular free public tours of the White House will resume in three weeks, on March 7.
The tours had been suspended during the transition to the Trump administration, but the suspension has lasted longer than usual. That provoked some dismay in Congress, where members were questioning what was taking so long, including U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who tweeted about it Sunday.
The delay is in part because Mrs. Trump has not fully assembled her East Wing staff who help oversee the program under which ordinary Americans can get a look at some of the public rooms of the People's House.
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"I am excited to reopen the White House to the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come each year," Trump said in a statement issued by the office of the White House press secretary Sean Spicer.
Mrs. Trump, who is not scheduled to move into the White House until June, has not yet appointed her own press secretary. But she has appointed Lindsay Reynolds as her chief of staff, and Reynolds served under former President George W. Bush as associate director of the White House Visitors Office.
"The White House is a remarkable and historic site and we are excited to share its beauty and history," Mrs. Trump said in her statement. "I am committed to the restoration and preservation of our nation's most recognizable landmark. "
Public tours of the White House are free of charge and first-come, first-serve. A limited number of spaces are available and tickets must be requested through a member of Congress, usually one's personal congressional representative.
The tours are self-guided, generally running from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays (excluding Federal holidays or unless otherwise noted). Tour hours will be extended when possible based on the official White House schedule.
Visitors are encouraged to submit requests as early as possible. Tickets can be requested up to three months in advance and must be submitted no less than 21 days in advance.
In 2015, the Obama administration lifted the 40-year ban on cameras and photos on public tours. Guests are now welcome to take photos throughout the White House tour route and are even encouraged to share their photos using the hashtag #WhiteHouseTour. Phones and compact still cameras with a lens no longer than 3 inches are allowed.