Seven Months in and Trump's Presidency Has Broken the Bank for the Secret Service

Seven Months in and Trump's Presidency Has Broken the Bank for the Secret Service
A secret service agent looks on as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally, Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016, in Abingdon, Va. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

A large family, multiple resorts, and weekly trips away from Washington to continue living the lavish lifestyle President Trump is accustomed to – it adds up.

Maybe the next time Trump decides to make a big show out of giving up his salary, he needs to give it to the Secret Service, who are assigned to protect him.

According to CNBC, the well has run dry and there are no funds to pay the Secret Service.

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.

The agency has faced a crushing workload since the height of the contentious election season, and it has not relented in the first seven months of the administration. Agents must protect Trump – who has traveled almost every weekend to his properties in Florida, New Jersey and Virginia – and his adult children whose business trips and vacations have taken them across the country and overseas.

“The president has a large family, and our responsibility is required in law,” Alles said. “I can’t change that. I have no flexibility.”

Under Trump, there are 42 agents required to be on duty, around the clock (it was 31 for Obama). Eighteen of those are Trump family members, and more than they’ve ever had to deal with.

Agents are actually leaving the Secret Service because they’re overworked, and in some cases, have not been paid for the work they’ve done.

The combined salary and overtime cap for agents is $160,000. Without some manner of congressional intervention, the pay isn’t coming. Talks are under way to get that cap figure up to $187,000, at least for the duration of Trump’s term. They don’t have a lot of options.

And even if they get the raise on that cap, some who’ve been on the job for some time, veterans of the organization, they’ll not be compensated for their efforts.

“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.

Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee who was the first lawmaker to sound the alarm after last year’s disclosure that hundreds of agents had maxed out on pay, recently spoke with Alles and pledged support for a more permanent fix, Werner said.

“We cannot expect the Secret Service to be able to recruit and keep the best of the best if they are not being paid for these increases (in overtime hours).”

You couldn’t get anyone to stay on any job if they were getting worked to death and not paid.

Because that’s pretty much slavery.

South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, the Republican chairman of the House oversight panel, is “working with other committees of jurisdiction to explore ways in which we can best support” the Secret Service, his spokesperson Amanda Gonzalez said.

Talks also are underway in the Senate, where the Secret Service has briefed members of the Homeland Security Committee, which directly oversees the agency’s operations.

For now, the minimum is 1,100 agents who are ineligible for overtime, with the convergence of 150 foreign heads of state expected next month in New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

That makes for an uncomfortable situation.

The agency began to feel the pinch last year, during the tumultuous campaign season, at rallies and conventions. The hopes that things would settle after the election were soon dashed.

Since his inauguration, Trump has taken seven trips to his estate in Mar-a-Lago, Fla., traveled to his Bedminster, N.J., golf club five times and returned to Trump Tower in Manhattan once.

Trump’s frequent visits to his “winter White House” and “summer White House” are especially challenging for the agency, which must maintain a regular security infrastructure at each – while still allowing access to paying members and guests.

Always costly in manpower and equipment, the president’s jaunts to Mar-a-Lago are estimated to cost at least $3 million each, based on a General Accounting Office estimate for similar travel by former President Obama. The Secret Service has spent some $60,000 on golf cart rentals alone this year to protect Trump at both Mar-a-Lago and Bedminster.

Why are they renting golf carts at Trump’s resorts? Trump owns them. He could allow them those carts for free, couldn’t he? That’s such a small thing, and could save the government (See: taxpayers; Also see: YOU AND ME) money.

Who’s getting the benefit of those costs, anyway?

Oh, yeah.

As for other costs, First Lady Melania Trump and son Barron required additional protection living at Trump Tower from January to June of this year.

Trump’s older sons, Eric and Donald Trump Jr. require security detail in New York, and everywhere they go to promote the Trump business. That involves frequent travel abroad, as well.

A few examples: Earlier this year, Eric Trump’s business travel to Uruguay cost the Secret Service nearly $100,000 just for hotel rooms.Other trips included the United Kingdom and the Dominican Republic. In February, both sons and their security details traveled to Vancouver for the opening of new Trump hotel there, and to Dubai to officially open a Trump International Golf Club.

In March, security details accompanied part of the family, including Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner on a skiing vacation in Aspen, Colo. Even Tiffany Trump, the president’s youngest daughter, took vacation to international locales such as Germany and Hungary with her boyfriend, which also require Secret Service protection.

Are we getting the picture, yet?

There are currently 6,800 Secret Service agents in the force. The goal is to have 7,600 by 2019. Active recruitment measures are ongoing.

Adding additional agents would certainly take some of the strain off of the already overworked staff, but nobody signs on to risk their lives for no compensation.

It’s going to take Congress to loosen the purse strings, and the reality is, in order to do that, there’ll have to be cuts made somewhere else.

Having a Kardashian/Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous/reality TV presidency is working out great, so far, right?

Somewhere, the tortured spirit of Marie Antionette is looking on in amazement.



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