With four months left in the year, the Secret Service reported that more than 1,000 agents assigned to protect President Donald Trump and his family have already hit their federally mandated caps for salary and overtime allowances that were built in for the entire 2017 calendar year, USA Today revealed Monday.
Secret Service Director Randolph "Tex" Alles told USA Today in an interview that the agency can't change the budget requirements and has had no choice but to accompany Trump without pay on his frequent travel to Florida, New Jersey, and Virginia to visit Trump family properties, including Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, and Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, New Jersey.
According to USA Today, Trump has taken a trip almost every weekend since his inauguration in January.
Trump's large extended family has also posed a problem for the agency, with a number of Secret Service agents traveling with all of his adult children for any kind of trip — business or pleasure.
"The president has a large family, and our responsibility is required in law,'' Alles said. "I can't change that. I have no flexibility.''
The Trump administration has a whopping 42 people requiring Secret Service protection, which includes 18 family members. The highest number of protectees during the Obama administration was 31.
"Normally, we are not this tapped out,'' Alles said.
And although he is talking with key lawmakers to get a change passed in the interim, there are numerous agents — 130, to be exact — who will still not receive compensation for hours they have already worked. Even so, Alles is rallying to increase their pay cap from $160,000 to $187,000 annually for the rest of Trump's four-year-term.
But Alles wasn't too hopeful about getting his agents paid anytime soon.
"I don't see this changing in the near term,'' he said.
Not the first time
Last year, during the height of the presidential campaign season, more than 1,400 Secret Service agents had to work thousands of overtime hours without compensation, forcing Congress to approve a one-time compensation fix.
Some members of Congress worry that the additional burden on the federal agents will lead to a decrease in morale and work ethic. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), who was the first to support the congressional action last year, again pledged to make it a top priority this year.
"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)," Cummings spokeswoman Jennifer Werner said.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) spokeswoman Amanda Gonzalez also told USA Today that Gowdy was "working with other committees of jurisdiction to explore ways" in which he could best support the agency.