Constitution Daily

Smart conversation from the National Constitution Center

The Easter Bunny: A government budget victim?

March 19, 2013 by Scott Bomboy


We’re not sure what the Founding Fathers would think about a Washington beltway feud between Democrats and Republicans over the Easter Bunny. But it is happening at least for a few days in the budget-obsessed capital.

Nancy Reagan with the Easter bunnies.

In the latest developments, Republicans are howling at the White House sending notices to thousands of people who have tickets for the annual Easter Egg Roll on April 1.

The Washington Post obtained the notice sent out by the White House:

“Finally, 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. … If cancelled, the event will not be re-scheduled. We will notify you if there are any modifications to this event.”

A White House spokesperson told CNN about why the notice was sent out.

"Because we distribute tickets to the Easter Egg Roll far in advance, we alerted all ticket holders that this event is subject to cancellation due to funding uncertainty, including the possibility of a government shutdown. However, we are currently proceeding as planned with the Easter Egg Roll," a White House official told CNN.

The event is huge in many ways. As many as 50,000 people attend the Easter Egg Roll, and President Obama and the First Lady play a big part in the ceremonies.

In fact, Michelle Obama has invited the family of slain Chicago teen Hadiya Pendleton to the Easter Egg Roll.

Officially, the Obama administration is saying the bunny-friendly event would only be cancelled due to a possible government shutdown, and not because of government budget cuts related to the sequester.

Two weeks ago, the White House said it didn’t expect to cancel the Easter Egg Roll because of the sequester cuts, unlike its move to stop public White House tours.

The good news is that the Senate is moving quickly toward the approval of a continuing budget resolution, which if passed by the House this week would keep the Easter bunny and hundreds of thousands of government workers on the job past March 27.

But even that’s not 100 percent guaranteed. That’s because the continuing resolution proposed in the Senate makes the sequester cuts mostly permanent. The deal would allow government departments to target budget cuts, instead of across-the-board cuts by a fixed percentage.

So the deal to keep the government in business will lock in the total amount of the sequester budget cuts. The flexibility might allow some government agencies to avoid worker furloughs by cutting other costs.

Congress faces a Monday deadline to make all this happen because it is going to a two-week break for Passover and Easter.

“Remember Easter recess is staring us in the face,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said on Monday night, when he spoke about completing the resolution and a budget for the following fiscal year.

And as for the Founding Fathers, they probably would have a better understanding of the Easter bunny than the sequester and the continuing resolution. The Easter bunny tradition dates back to their time period; it was brought to the United States by German immigrants to Pennsylvania.

However, the ideas of the sequester dates back to the eras of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.

Recent Constitution Daily Stories

Constitution Check: Can there be no exceptions to Second Amendment gun rights? White House dogged by tour cancellation critics Does national GOP game plan include less tea party influence? Fourth Amendment makes two digital privacy headlines

Sign up for our email newsletter