WASHINGTON (CN) – The frequent traveling of President Donald Trump and his entourage, which includes family and other VIPs, is draining the Secret Service payroll, according to an agency director.
Secret Service Director Randolph Alles told USA Today on Monday that the agency can no longer afford to pay over 1,000 agents who are tasked with protecting the president, his family and the multiple residences he owns along the East Coast of the United States.
The president travels nearly every weekend to visit his properties in Virginia, New Jersey or Florida. His children also require protection, and their frequent business trips to often far-flung locations are pinching the Secret Service budget, Alles said.
“The president has a large family and our responsibility is required in law. I can’t change that. I have no flexibility,” he added.
The pressure is unique from previous administrations in that it is an unprecedented number of protectees under the Secret Service’s watch. Trump’s administration has 42 people under protection, including 18 family members. Former President Barack Obama had only 31 individuals under Secret Service protection.
1,100 agents have already exceeded federally-mandated caps on salary and overtime allowances, Alles said. Those allowances were meant to last the year.
The hectic pace has also pushed agents to leave in droves, Alles said, since the service is unable to pay employees for work they’ve already completed.
Alles said the Secret Service has initiated talks with legislators about raising the combined salary and overtime cap for agents. Ideally, it would move from $160,000 annually to $187,000 annually through the rest of Trump’s term.
But this wouldn’t solve the problem of missing pay of 130 veteran agents. They wouldn’t be fully compensated for hundreds of hours of work they’ve already put in, Alles said.
He doesn’t see the situation changing any time soon but said it’s important that a discussion get started in the Senate and with members of the Homeland Security Committee, that could change. The committee directly oversees the agency’s operations.
What remains to be seen is whether assistance will arrive before the next big event demanding secret service attention. Roughly 150 foreign dignitaries and heads of state descend onto New York City for the United Nations General Assembly on September 12. The event is considered a “national special security event” and requires large scale deployment of secret service agents.
“Normally we are not this tapped out, “Alles said.
Currently, agents who have reached their pay caps represent roughly one-third of the Secret Service workforce.