Category: Syndicated

Secret Service Can’t Pay Agents Who Hit Overtime Caps Protecting Trump and Family, Report Says

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WASHINGTON – The Secret Service cannot pay hundreds of agents to protect President Donald Trump and his large family, according to a report published Monday morning.

Secret Service Director Randolph “Tex” Alles told USA Today more than 1,000 agents have already hit the federally mandated caps for salary and overtime allowances — which were meant to last the entire year.

“The president has a large family, and our responsibility is required in law,” Alles told USA Today. “I can’t change that. I have no flexibility.”

Trump has taken trips almost every weekend of his presidency so far, to his properties in New Jersey, Virginia and Florida, as well as internationally — and his adult children also require protection during their business trips and vacations.

In Trump’s administration, 42 people have protection, which includes 18 members of his family — an increase from the 31 people who had Secret Service protection in Obama’s administration.

In June, CNN reported that the Secret Service was relaxing its drug policy for potential hires, as Alles laid out a plan to swell the agency’s ranks by more than 3,000 employees in the coming years.

“I think between that and the fact that he has a larger family, that’s just more stress on the organization. We recognize that,” Alles said at the time, and added that he had been allocating resources in accordance.

Alles has met with congressional lawmakers to discuss planned legislation to increase the combined salary and overtime cap for agents — from $160,000 per year to $187,000. He told USA Today this would be at least for Trump’s first term.

But he added that even if this were approved, about 130 agents still wouldn’t be able to be paid for hundreds of hours already worked.

In April, CNN reported that Trump’s travel to his private club in Florida has cost more than an estimated $20 million in his first 80 days in office, putting the President on pace to surpass former President Barack Obama’s eight years of spending on travel — in only his first year in office.

Before and during the campaign season, Trump regularly criticized Obama for costing the American taxpayer money every time he took a trip, and Trump the candidate repeatedly called for belt-tightening across government agencies.

In 2014, Trump tweeted: “We pay for Obama’s travel so he can fundraise millions so Democrats can run on lies. Then we pay for his golf.”

Golf, by the way, is also one of Trump’s regular presidential pastimes.

New Iowa License Plate Design Revealed

DES MOINES, Iowa — After a vote at the Iowa State Fair, and online, the new design for Iowa’s license plates has been selected.

The Iowa Department of Transportation revealed the winner was the “City and Country” design with 113,299 votes out of 291,095 total votes cast.

“Iowans made their voices heard in the selection process for our state’s next license plate design,” Gov. Kim Reynolds said. “I’m glad so many were able to help select a meaningful design that should serve as a point of pride for our state and showcase our unique culture to the rest of the country.”

The new design will be available in 2018.

NAFTA Trade Negotiation Kick Off

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiation started up on August 16th. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer explained the deal has helped many Americans but also failed others.

Lighthizer says that Canada and Mexico are the largest export markets for U.S. farmers and ranchers, but claims at least 700,000 American have lost their jobs because of changing trade flows under the agreement. He says that they cannot ignore trade deficits and lost manufacturing jobs.

There was a joint statement the same week from the largest farm groups from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

The American Farm Bureau, Canadian Federation of Agriculture, and Mexico National Agriculture Council sent a letter to all three nations, to try and put a face behind the idea that ag trade has done well under NAFTA and they don’t want renegotiation to hurt it.

But while negotiators publicly say they want to preserve the pact’s gains for farmers, they also want some good-sized changes including better trade flows, labor and environmental standards, and a dispute settlement system.

Trade Adviser with the American Farm Bureau Dave Salmonsen says, “Can we, without changing what we’re already doing, making improvements that will be better for everybody. Not easy, these are the outstanding issues.”

Salmonsen says there is a time crunch, Mexico will have it’s presidential elections next year, which could put the renegotiation on hold.

He says, “We all know trade negotiations usually take longer than you think they will. But maybe with good faith and depending on the amount of issues they agree to tackle they could put something together.”