The Price of Security
According to an exclusive report from USA Today, the Secret Service can no longer afford to pay its agents to protect the President of the United States.
The report says the agency is having a hard time paying the hundreds of agents needed to carry out extensive protective missions – mostly due to the sheer size of President Trump’s family.
Secret Service Director Tex Alles told USA Today they are dealing with an unprecedented amount of protectees. Under Trump, there are 42 people in need of protection. That is 31 more people than during the Obama administration, which only deemed protection necessary for 11 people.
The Secret Service has faces an overwhelming workload since election season, giving Trump protection since his first rallies as a candidate and into the first eight months of his presidency, following him to his travel destinations in Florida, New Jersey and Virginia almost every weekend since the Inauguration.
According to an analysis from Politico, it costs about $3 million in protection costs every time the President travels to his “Winter White House” Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. In the last eight months the president has visited the resort seven times.
The agency also serves as security for Trump’s full-grown children as well, whose business trips and vacations have taken Secret Service agents across the country and overseas.
This includes the Secret Service’s duty to the First Lady of the United States Melania Trump who for the beginning of the presidency lived in New York City at Trump Tower with Donald and her son, Barron, while the boy went to school in the city. The costs to protect the tower while FLOTUS and their son reside in the building have sky rocketed.
The mayor and governor of the city have both spoken at length about how it is cutting into their spending and overtime costs for the city’s police department as it has been estimated to cost the NYPD about $146,000 a day to protect Trump Tower.
Trump has recently visited his New York City home for the first time during his presidency, but it wasn’t the first time he thought about it. In May, the president decided against a weekend getaway to the city due to backlash on how it might disrupt the city.
Trump tweeted that rather than “causing a big disruption in N.Y.C.” he would rather be “working out of home in Bedminster, N.J.” where one of his golf courses is located.
Trump has visited Bedminster seven times since his Inauguration.
Alles said that more than 1,000 agents have already hit the federally mandated caps for salary and overtime allowances that were meant for the entire year, just eight months into 2017.
Without congressional intervention, Alles says he does not have the funds to pay his agents for the work they have already put in to protecting Trump and his family. The director has begun conversations with key lawmakers to raise the combined salary and overtime cap for agents from $160,000 per year to $187,000 for at least the duration of Trump’s first term.
Unfortunately, even if this proposal was approved, about 130 veteran agents would not be fully compensated for hundreds of hours already amassed, according to the agency.
In 2014 a special investigative panel was formed after a White House breach. It found that agents and uniformed officers worked an unsustainable number of hours which made the protection of the White House weaker.
It seems the agency is between a rock and a hard place. The Secret Service has the need for more agents, as there are more people to protect but it is becoming more and more impossible to compensate the growing number of agents needed to complete a full task force to surround the president.
Without proper compensation, the agency risks losing agents they cannot operate without, but as Alles put it, “It isn’t something I can change.” The amount of people who need protection under the Trump administration is an unwavering number that does not provide relief to the agency, so the Secret Service’s best bet is to ask for the funds needed to keep agents fully paid.
Since the publishing of the USA Today report, the Secret Service has responded with a press release on the issue.
In the press release release, the agency states that the issue with funding is not one that "can be attributed to the current Administrator's protection requirements alone, but rather has been an ongoing issue for nearly a decade due to an overall increase in operational tempo."
The agency stated that they will "remedy this ongoing and serious problem" but working with the Department of Homeland Security, the Trump Administration and the Congress to find a solution. They believe all employees will be compensated for the hours they have worked.
Posted on Aug 22, 2017