The vote was just one of a series of high-profile votes the Senate was taking Wednesday afternoon as it plowed toward passage of a bill to fund the government through the rest of this fiscal year.
President Obama canceled the tours earlier this month as one of the casualties of the budget sequesters, setting off a chorus of complaints from Congress and the public.
Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Republican, offered an amendment to free up $8 million money to keep both the White House and several national parks open on their regular schedules.
They defeated Mr. Coburn’s amendment on a 54-45 vote, with nearly every Republican voting to reopen the White House and with almost all Democrats voting to back Mr. Obama’s decision.
Cowed Democrats, obviously under orders from their fearless leader in the White House, voted in lockstep to defeat the amendment. They argued with a straight face that there are more important issues facing the country and that withdrawn funding for science research, continued food stamp assistance, foreclosure assistance, and meat inspection are more important concerns than whether people get to visit the White House.
Mr. Coburn had only harsh words for the Democrats: "What can be more important than my constituents spending hard-earned vacation money to come to Wash DC and then be denied a view of the White House interior? People get sick from bad meat all the time, then they get over it. Children on food stamp assistance need to stop whining and find parents to better support them. And where has scientific research gotten us when scientists haven't even been able to prove yet that dinosaurs co-existed with Adam and Eve?"