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White House Easter Egg Roll: next victim of Washington's money woes? (+video)

It's one thing to ax the White House tours, but to stomp on the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, with invitations, plus a possible cancellation warning, in the mail? Not likely.

By Staff writer / March 19, 2013

Children roll Easter eggs at the White House Easter Egg Roll hosted by President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, April 2011, on the South Lawn of the White House. This year's invitations went out with a warning that the event may yet be canceled, due to 'funding uncertainty.'

Charles Dharapak/AP/File

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Is the White House Easter Egg Roll on the fiscal chopping block? Will it be the next victim of Washington’s money woes, now that White House tours are already canceled?

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Washington Editor

Peter Grier is The Christian Science Monitor's Washington editor. In this capacity, he helps direct coverage for the paper on most news events in the nation's capital.

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That’s the hand-wringer de jour in D.C. this week as VIP parents peruse their just-received tickets to the festive presidential egg-rolling event. Included with the tickets is this warning: “This event is subject to cancellation due to funding uncertainty surrounding the Executive Office of the President and other federal agencies. If canceled, the event will not be rescheduled,” according to a report on the fracas in Politico.

Many Republicans in Congress, particularly those with little kids, cried “Fowl!” at this warning that it's possible no eggs will be pushed on the White House lawn with a wooden spoon on April 1, the roll’s scheduled date.

(Sorry, that should be “foul” above. The Monitor regrets the error, even though it was committed on purpose.)

Look, the sun-splashed, colorful, kid-filled fun-fest known as the Easter Egg Roll is one of the most joyous Washington events of the year. It’s bipartisan. Usually the most sought-after celebrity at the event isn’t the president or first lady, but the first dog – in this case, Bo, the Obamas' Portuguese water dog.

Right now, the White House is saying the roll is still on, and the controversy is overblown. The warning was just included as a courtesy, according to administration officials. "The Easter Egg roll is entirely likely to continue and proceed," White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday.

We think that’s right and the eggs will go on. Why? First off, the Easter Egg Roll isn’t paid for by taxpayers. Much of it is funded via private donations, as Mr. Carney noted in a briefing last week.

Second, even if subsidiary funding problems could cause the White House to crack the roll’s yolk, we’re not talking about the sequester, which has already occurred and led to the cancellation of tours. Officials make it clear they’re looking forward to the continuing resolution, which funds all government programs. If that’s not passed by the end of the month, the federal government will go through a shutdown. The roll might topple off the wall, and all the king's horses, etc.

But right now it looks as if that’s not likely to happen. Both House Republicans and the White House say they just want to sign a CR that keeps funding at current levels and proceed from there.

Third, the White House has already invited its own special guests. First lady Michelle Obama has asked the family of Hadiya Pendleton, for instance. Hadiya Pendleton was the 15-year-old who was killed in Chicago shortly after performing at President Obama’s second inauguration.

So we’d bet our omelette that the 135th production of this great event will go on. The administration has already been poached by the controversy of ending White House tours. It’s unlikely it wants to face the heat it'd get from canceling the Easter bunny.

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