- Not enactedThe President has not signed this bill
- The senate has not voted
- The house has not voted
House Committee on Oversight and Government ReformIntroducedSeptember 25th, 2018
- house Committees
What is it?
In-Depth: Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK) introduced this bill to serve as a stopgap measure while the Secret Service staffs up to address its current staff shortfall:
“Ultimately, these efforts [to hire more Secret Service agents] will make extensions [of the pay cap waiver] unnecessary, but not for now. As the Secret Service continues to staff up, a one-year extension through calendar year 2019 ensures that the Secret Service will retain more experienced agents, and it will give the committee time to receive a Government Accountability Office report on human capital progress, as well as other reports.”
In an NPR interview, Kevin Johnson, the USA Today reporter who broke the story of Secret Service agents hitting their federal salary caps in August 2017, explained why the Trump administration has strained the Secret Service:
“[T]he previous administration had a number of protectees that was 30, 31. This administration has seen a significant increase up to 42. Including in that number are 18 members of the Trump family. And it's not only protecting them here at home in their offices in the U.S., but these are adult children who travel. And two of them manage a fairly large company that a lot of people know about. And so they are traveling a lot overseas, and the Secret Service goes with them.”
Lawrence J. Kotlikoff, an economist at Boston University and president of Economic Security Planning, Inc, argues that President Trump himself, rather than taxpayers, should shoulder the additional costs beyond historical norms that his above-normal travel is costing the Secret Service:
“No one, to my knowledge, has put together a formal estimate of the extra federal, state, and local security costs of this president. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it totaled a quarter billion dollars per year. That’s enough money to properly feed our 13 million children who are living in hunger every day. To resolve this problem, Congress should pass a bill in September that entails dollar-for-dollar cost-sharing once the president’s security budget exceeds the annual amount dictated by historical norms. This is not only a question of costs. The president and his family are clearly mixing the nation’s business with their own. Whether this rises to the level of corrupt practices is something for investigative bodies to decide. If Congress authorizes an increase in the Secret Service’s budget without considering the Trump family’s clear conflict of interest, it will, potentially, be aiding and abetting corrupt practices and, potentially, be breaking the law. For example, Trump’s decision to charge the Secret Service $60,000 for the use of Mar-a-Lago golf carts over the past nine months is a direct transfer of money from the public to the Trumps’ pockets.”
This bill passed the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on a voice vote with the support of three cosponsors, including two Democrats and one Republican.
Of Note: The Secret Service has recently struggled with poor recruitment and retention, in part because more of its employees are running into the overtime pay cap. These problems have been exacerbated during the Trump administration, due to news of misconduct and the president’s frequent travel and large family. According to Rep. Russell, almost 1,000 employees — one-third of the agency's workforce — would have hit the overtime pay cap by July 2018 if not for the agency’s waiver for 2018.
Congress also overrode overtime limits for the Secret Service in 2016 and 2017. In 2016, over 1,000 agents maxed out their pay caps in October after months of major campaign events for the candidates and their families. In 2017, the Trump administration’s size, plus President Trump’s frequent travels, stretched the Secret Service’s budget and caused over 1,000 agents to hit their overtime caps in August — two months earlier than the previous year.
Summary by Lorelei Yang
(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / 400tmax)