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Public Statements

Former Presidents Protection Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. LEAHY. Today the Senate is enacting provisions sent to us by Representative Conyers, Chairman Smith and others to repeal a shortsighted limitation passed in 1994 to limit Secret Service protection of former Presidents. The House bill reverses the 10-year limitation enacted during a time when partisans were angry at the American people's election of President Clinton. They contended they were saving taxpayers money with this change in protection, but I doubt their legislation had any such effect. Now that the limitation might limit Secret Service protection for George W. Bush, they are ready to reverse course. We live in a world of real threats and dangerous people intent on wrongdoing. I support this effort to protect former President Bush and other Presidents going forward.

I think we should take a more thorough look at this outdated statute and expressly extend protection for the minor children of former Presidents, as well. In today's world, I do not believe ending such protection at age 15 is prudent. I have raised the issue with the authors of this legislation, with the Secret Service and with the current administration. They are hesitant to improve upon the current bill. I think we are making a mistake by not taking this opportunity to extend protection to children in our first families until they reach 21 years of age. I will not hold up the beneficial change that will be made by the House bill in order to demand a more thorough overhaul of the statute at this time. I suspect Congress will need to reassess this matter because we have not done all we should now.


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