Ticketholders to the April 1 Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn can all but ignore the disclaimer on their passes warning them that admission to the annual event may still be cancelled, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday, telling reporters, "We have every expectation that the Easter Egg Roll will proceed as planned."
House and Senate members received a memo Monday disclaiming that "by using these tickets, guests are acknowledging that this event is subject to cancellation due to funding uncertainty surrounding the Executive Office of the President and other federal agencies," according to the Washington Post.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich took to Twitter on Monday to express his outrage: "Shameless! How else can you describe the threat to cancel white house Easter egg hunt? Maybe pathetic, demagogic? You try to find right words," he wrote.
Republicans have already charged President Obama of fear-mongering with other casualties of sequestration - the knife that slashed blindly across the board into the federal budget this month because Congress couldn't agree on a more reasonable solution. Several weeks ago, the administration announced it would suspend public White House tours to be able to allocate the staffing resources elsewhere. The Easter Egg Roll, though, was never threatened by the sequester, Carney said.
"It was not about sequester, principally," he said during his daily briefing. "The language that got attention on the Hill and was reported duly by the press was prepared well in advance, and it had to do with the potential possibility of a government shutdown should there not be a resolution on the continuing resolution."
Still reeling from the sequester drama this month, the GOP-led House and Democrat-controlled Senate faced yet another fiscal hill: If they could not strike a compromise on a funding package before the current continuing resolution expires March 27, the government would be shut down.
But with both chambers poised to push through a bill this week, "nobody expects a government shutdown" and the administration has "every expectation that the Easter Egg Roll will proceed as planned," Carney continued. "I hope that settles the matter."
Earlier in the briefing, Carney mocked the press for so aggressively pursuing the story: "I've noted just, substantial interest, it must be the very top news story among the Washington press corps today, just based on the incoming inquiries," he said.
Indeed, the White House has been fending off speculation about the traditionally non-political Easter egg hunt for weeks. On Friday, Carney snapped at a news anchor who pressed him on why tours were cancelled but not the Easter Egg Roll.
"If you did a little reporting," he told Fox News' Jenna Lee, "you'd know that the Easter Egg Roll is open for a lot of military families. It's paid for by the sale of those eggs that come out, as well as from donations on the outside. It's a totally different budget. These are apples and oranges."