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Trump's Travel Habits Bankrupting Secret Service

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The Secret Service can reportedly no longer afford to pay the hundreds of agents required to protect President Donald Trump's family and secure his various properties.

More than 1,000 agents have already reached their annual salary and overtime limits, Secret Service Director Randolph "Tex" Alles revealed in an interview with USA Today published on Aug. 21.

"The president has a large family, and our responsibility is required in law,'' Alles told the newspaper. "I can't change that. I have no flexibility.''

The agency currently has an unprecedented 42 people under its protection, including 18 members of Trump's family. By comparison, the Secret Service protected only 11 individuals when Barack Obama was in office.

Adding to the costs is the constant travel undertaken by Trump and his family. The president visits his various residences in Florida, New Jersey and Virginia almost every weekend, while his children routinely go on business trips to other parts of the world.

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The heightened workload has led a number of agents to quit, and Alles says he fears this will continue to happen unless he can raise their combined salary and overtime cap from $160,000 to $187,000 per year.

USA Today reports that he is currently negotiating with lawmakers in an effort to increase his agency's budget.

But Alles is not optimistic.

"I don't see this changing in the near term,'' he said.

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He added that even if the increase was approved, well over 100 agents still would not be compensated for hundreds of overtime hours they have already worked.

Since taking office, Trump has visited his property in Mar-a-Lago, Florida, seven times. He has also traveled to his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, five times, and to Trump Tower in Manhattan once.

CNN reports that, by April, the president's travel habits had cost approximately $20 million. At the current rate, Trump is likely to rack up more travel expenses in one year than Obama did throughout his entire presidency.

"We have them working all night long," Alles told USA Today. "We're sending them on the road all of the time. There are no quick fixes, but over the long term, I've got to give them a better balance here."

Several lawmakers, both Republican and Democratic, have stated publicly that the Secret Service needs more support.

"It is clear that the Secret Service's demands will continue to be higher than ever throughout the Trump administration," said Jennifer Werner, a spokesperson for Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Democrat from Maryland. "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."

Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat from Missouri, expressed a similar view.

"Ensuring the men and women who put their lives on the line protecting the president, his family and others every day are getting paid fairly for their work is a priority,'' she said. "I'm committed to working with my colleagues on both sides to get this done.''

Sources: USA Today, CNN / Featured Image: Matt Popovich/Flickr / Embedded Images: Chuck Patch/Wikimedia CommonsGabriel Silva/United States Government via Wikimedia Commons

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