Aug 21, 2017

Secret Service hits overtime caps protecting Trumps

Members of the Trump administration walk past a Secret Service agent as they follow the president to the Marine One helicopter (Jacquelyn Martin / AP)

The Secret Service is struggling to pay hundreds of its agents, largely due to the size of President Trump's family and the measures necessary to secure their many residences, according to USA Today.

Secret Service Director Randolph "Tex" Alles told USA Today that more than 1,000 agents have already hit the federally mandated caps for salary and overtime allowances, which were supposed to last the entire year. A large part of that financial burden can be attributed the president's frequent trips to his residences in Florida, New Jersey and Virginia, as well as his children's travel across the country and abroad for business and vacation.

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

However, the Secret Service told Axios in a statement Monday afternoon that although the number of people within the Trump administration that needs protection is unprecedented — 42 under Trump (18 being family members) compared with just 31 under Obama — the financial issues the agency faces have been going on for years:

"Our agency experienced a similar situation in calendar year 2016... [t]his issue is not one that can be attributed to the current Administration's protection requirements alone, but rather has been an ongoing issue for nearly a decade due to an overall increase in operational tempo."

What's next: To help ease the situation, Alles has reportedly begun meeting with lawmakers to discuss raising agents' salary and overtime caps from $160,000 per year to $187,000, a proposal he has asked to last through the end of Trump's first term. But even with the added funding, the agency said many employees would never be fully compensated for the overtime they've already logged.

White House response: The WH said in a statement that Trump "is committed to ensuring the Secret Service and all of those protecting our country have all the resources they need. We are going to continue to work with Congress on this important issue, which requires their actions."

Full statement, made by U.S. Secret Service Director Randolph "Tex" Alles, sent to Axios via email:

"I am extremely proud of the hard work performed by the men and women of the Secret Service. Their devotion to duty is unparalleled in federal law enforcement.

The Secret Service has the funding it needs to meet all current mission requirements for the remainder of the fiscal year and compensate employees for overtime within statutory pay caps. The Secret Service estimates that roughly 1,100 employees will work overtime hours in excess of statutory pay caps during calendar year 2017. Our agency experienced a similar situation in calendar year 2016 that resulted in legislation that allowed Secret Service employees to exceed statutory caps on pay.

To remedy this ongoing and serious problem, the agency has worked closely with the Department of Homeland Security, the Administration, and the Congress over the past several months to find a legislative solution. As we work to ensure that employees are compensated for the hours they work, the Secret Service continues its rigorous hiring of special agents, Uniformed Division officers, and critical support staff to meet future mission requirements.

The law, Title 18 US Code 3056, details protection requirements for the President, Vice President and their immediate family members.

This issue is not one that can be attributed to the current Administration's protection requirements alone, but rather has been an ongoing issue for nearly a decade due to an overall increase in operational tempo."

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