By Ryan Velez
The protection for Donald Trump’s family as they travel to various residences has created much outrage (little surprise there) but what many may not realize is that the financial burden is not being created for taxpayers alone. USA Today reports that the Secret Service is no longer able to pay some agents due to the expanded protective mission the president requires.
Secret Service Director Randolph "Tex" Alles, in an interview with USA Today said more than 1,000 agents have already hit the federally mandated caps for salary and overtime allowances that were meant to last the entire year. To give a bit of a picture of the work required, agents have to protect Trump during his frequent travels to properties in Florida, New Jersey, and Virginia, as well as his adult children when they travel overseas and across the country for vacations and business.
"The president has a large family, and our responsibility is required in law,'' Alles said. "I can't change that. I have no flexibility.'' 42 people have White House protection under Trump, 18 of which are family, a leap of 31 from Obama’s administration.
The stress on the agency has been a bipartisan concern for years, after a special investigative panel formed after a particularly egregious 2014 White House breach also found that that agents and uniform officers worked "an unsustainable number of hours,'' which also contributed to large attrition rates. 800 agents and uniformed officers have been hired, but these attrition rates lead to a net staffing gain of only 300. Last year, Congress had to approve a one-time fix to ensure 1,400 agents get compensated for overtime about previous limits.
"It is clear that the Secret Service's demands will continue to be higher than ever throughout the Trump administration,'' said Jennifer Werner, a spokesperson for Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings. Talks in the House and Senate are underway to try and find a solution, with both parties working together.
"Ensuring the men and women who put their lives on the line protecting the president, his family and others every day are getting paid fairly for their work is a priority,'' said Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, the Homeland Security Committee's top Democrat. "I'm committed to working with my colleagues on both sides to get this done.''
This can’t come soon enough, as one of the largest assignments for the agency is coming up, with 150 heads of state coming together for the United Nations General Assembly.