Members of the Secret Service wait after President Barack Obama arrived at Atlanta Hartsfield Jackson International Airport March 16, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama on Thursday signed into law H.R. 6620, the Former Presidents Protection Act of 2012, granting lifetime Secret Service protection to all former presidents, their wives (unless they remarry), and their children under the age of 16.
“The measure Obama signed Thursday applies to presidents elected after Jan. 1, 1997, specifically Obama and former President George W. Bush,” the Associated Press explains.
“It reverses a 1994 law that ended Secret Service protection 10 years after a president leaves office. Under that law, the Homeland Security secretary could extend such protection on a temporary basis,” the report adds.
Citing increased terrorist threats and “the greater mobility and youth of former presidents,” Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), one of the bill’s chief sponsors, argued that a change in the 10-year limit was necessary.
"Both men are young, enjoy good health, and have long lives ahead of them post-Presidency," Gowdy said during a speech on the House floor. "This bill proposes to extend that security for the remainder of their lives."
"There's an unintended anomaly, Mr. Speaker, that if current law were not changed, Hillary Clinton, Barbara Bush and Laura Bush would receive more protections by virtue of being First Lady than they would if they had served as President themselves. So I hope my colleagues will make sure that the person and the symbol of our Presidency is safe and secure for the duration of their natural lives," he added.
The House overwhelmingly supported the bill.
“The bill was … passed by voice-vote in early December,” BuffFeed’s Zeke Miller notes.
“Co-sponsors included Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, and Democrats Rep. John Conyers and Bobby Scott. The Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent on December 28th, and sent over to the White House on New Year’s Day,” he adds.
President Obama signed the bill Thursday afternoon.
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