The sheer size of President Donald Trump’s family and necessary efforts to secure their multiple homes along the East Coast has left the Secret Service with little money to pay agents for their work, according to an exclusive report by USA Today.
In an interview with the publication, Secret Service director Randolph “Tex” Alles said over 1,000 agents have already hit their federally mandated maximums for salary and overtime allowances, which were supposed to last for the entire year. The security agency has faced an unduly heavy workload in recent months, as agents are required to protect Trump, who has traveled nearly every weekend to his properties in Florida, New Jersey and Virginia.
The president’s four adult children also require protection during their travels across the U.S. and abroad, forcing the agency to stretch its services even further.
“The president has a large family, and our responsibility is required in law,” Alles said. “I can’t change that. I have no flexibility.”
Under Trump, the service currently deals with 42 White House protectees, 18 of whom are members of the president’s family, the director said. That’s up from 31 protectees during Barack Obama’s presidency.
Alles told the newspaper that the agency has become so strapped for cash in regards to compensation that he’s begun talking with key lawmakers to boost the combined salary and overpay caps for agents from $160,000 per year to $187,000 per year. Even if such an increase was approved, however, nearly 130 veteran agents wouldn’t be fully compensated for the hundreds of hours of work they’ve already put in.
“It’s clear that the Secret Service’s demands will continue to be higher than ever throughout the Trump administration,” said Jennifer Werner, spokeswoman for Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings (D). “We can’t 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, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, was the first legislator to speak out following last year’s revelation that hundreds of workers had hit their salary caps, according to USA Today. Werner said the legislator recently spoke with Alles and vowed to find a permanent fix to the issue.
South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, the Republican chairman of the House oversight panel, also noted that the committee is “working with other committees of jurisdiction to explore ways in which we can best support [the Secret Service],” his spokeswoman, Amanda Gonzalez, told the newspaper.
USA Today reported that the agents who’ve reached their compensation limits this year comprise about a third of the Secret Service workforce. Officials said they had hoped the agency’s workload would lessen after Trump’s inauguration, but that has become nearly impossible considering the president’s frequent trips, his family’s business travels and his large number of protectees.
In time, Alles said he expects the Secret Service’s continued hiring campaign to help relieve some of the pressure the agency faces. The service hopes to expand its current force of 6,800 agents and uniformed officers to 7,600 by 2016.
“We’re making progress,” he said.