Cheney May Get Secret Service After Office

A bipartisan bill the House is scheduled to take up next week would require the Secret Service to protect Vice President Dick Cheney for six months after he leaves office. The Homeland Security Department would be authorized to determine if additional protection is necessary after the initial deadline ends.

The bill (H.R. 5938) was introduced by House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), ranking member of the committee. Reps. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), the chairman and ranking member of the Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security subcommittee, are also co-sponsors of the bill.

The legislation would require the Secret Service to protect the vice president and his or her spouse -- as well as any children 16 or under -- for six months after leaving office. Cheney would be the first vice president covered by the new bill, but it would also apply to future holders of the office.

Once the six-month deadline is reached, the secretary of Homeland Security  is authorized "to direct the Secret Service to provide temporary protection for any of these individuals at any time thereafter" if a senior DHS official " determines that information or conditions warrant such protection."

Recent vice presidents, including Al Gore and Dan Quayle, were given Secret Serice protection after leaving office, but that was under temporary legislation or executive order, according to a May 16 Congressional Budget Office report. To give Cheney that same protection would cost $4 million next year, CBO estimated.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) has been given Secret Service protection since she left the White House in 2001, and Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) have received it as well as part of their presidential candidacies.

Former presidents get lifetime Secret Service coverage after leaving office.
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