Without a budget increase, agents won’t get paid.
Image via Karl-Ludwig Poggemann/Flickr.
It’s something most of us don’t think about day to day, but protecting the president and his family requires a lot of manpower — and cash. Between his wife, kids, grandchildren, in-laws, and the president himself, it’s an expensive endeavor to protect the first family, something Donald Trump has learned the hard way.
At its current pace of spending, the Secret Service will hit its federal salary cap come Sept. 30, The Washington Post reports. Unless congressional lawmakers alter the Secret Service’s budget, roughly one-third of its agents will work overtime and go unpaid.
What gives? Compared with the Obama administration, which required protection for 31 family members, Trump’s posse is large at 42 people with safety needs. There’s also the issue of travel expenses. So far this year, Trump has already taken 53 “leisure days” outside of the White House, which further strain the agency’s budget, Newsweek reports. After crunching some numbers, The Associated Press calculated Trump’s trips to his Mar-a-Lago golf club cost about $1 million a pop.
Technically, though, this wouldn’t be the first time the agency reached the upper limits of its salary cap. During the Obama administration’s final year, Congress granted the Secret Service permission to exceed federally mandated overtime and salary limits. But the 2016 bump in spending shouldn’t come as a big surprise when you consider the increased protection Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Trump all required during the presidential campaigns and November election.
Despite Obama’s travel expenses totaling about $97 million over the course of his two terms in office, the Secret Service has requested a $60 million budget increase for Trump’s next year in office alone.
In a statement, Secret Service Director Randoph Alles said the agency has been working with the Trump administration, the Department of Homeland Security, and Congress for months in an effort to find a solution. This year, the Secret Service added 800 employees to its staff and will likely continue to grow. Alles said, “The president has a large family, and our responsibility is required in law. I can't change that. I have no flexibility.”