House: Ex­tend pro­tec­tion for ex-pres­i­dents

Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT - Clin­ton By Danielle ryan mcclatchy Tri­bune

WASHINGTON — The House has voted to give life­long Se­cret Ser­vice pro­tec­tion to former pres­i­dents and their wives, due to in­creased na­tional se­cu­rity threats posed to post-9/11 lead­ers. The bill passed Wed­nes­day morn­ing by voice vote.

The bill’s spon­sor, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said in a state­ment that “the in­creased mo­bil­ity and youth” of still-liv­ing former pres­i­dents added to the ne­ces­sity of the ex­ten­sion.

The mea­sure, which now goes to the Se­nate, would re­verse a 1994 law lim­it­ing Se­cret Ser­vice pro­tec­tion to 10 years af­ter a pres­i­dent leaves of­fice. Un­der the pre­vi­ous law, the De­part­ment of Home­land Se­cu­rity can ex­tend that pro­tec­tion tem­po­rar­ily any time af­ter the 10-year pe­riod ex­pires.

Bill Clin­ton is the last pres­i­dent un­der cur­rent law who will re­ceive life­long pro­tec­tion, mean­ing that Ge­orge W. Bush and Barack Obama are the first in line for the lim­ited 10year pro­tec­tion pe­riod.

But if passed by Congress, the new law will re­store uni­for­mity for the pro­tec­tion of all presi- dents by re­turn­ing to life­time pro­tec­tion, rather than main­tain­ing a sit­u­a­tion whereby some pres­i­dents re­ceive life­long pro­tec­tion while oth­ers re­ceive a 10-year pe­riod of pro­tec­tion.

The bill would also au­tho­rize Se­cret Ser­vice pro­tec­tion for mi­nor chil­dren of former pres­i­dents un­til they turn 16.

But ques­tions have risen about the ne­ces­sity of life­long pro­tec­tion, par­tic­u­larly when tak­ing into ac­count the mas­sive costs as­so­ci­ated with pres­i­den­tial pro­tec­tion.

Rep. Howard Coble, RN.C., said in a state­ment that he has al­ways been sen­si­tive to the “perks and priv­i­leges” af­forded to elected of­fi­cials. Coble him­self has opted out of the con­gres­sional pen­sion pro­gram.

“I think we have seen that be­ing a former pres­i­dent can be a pretty lu­cra­tive ca­reer, and I feel that af­ter 10 years, if th­ese former pres­i­dents feel the need for ad­di­tional se­cu­rity, they should pay for it them­selves,” Coble said.

Pres­i­dent Richard M. Nixon opted out of Se­cret Ser­vice pro­tec­tion 11 years af­ter leav­ing of­fice, but hired his own pri­vate se­cu­rity.

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