WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama signed legislation giving himself and former President George W. Bush lifetime Secret Service protection Thursday, reversing a mid-1990s law which would have capped protection at 10 years from leaving office.
The bill, the Former Presidents Protection Act of 2012, removes the cap, granting all president's lifetime protection by the Secret Service, their spouses unless they remarry, and their children until the age of 16.
Obama and Bush were the only presidents to have not served prior to January 1, 1997 when the law took effect. It would also have impacted any future ex-president.
The bill was introduced in the House of Representatives in November 2012 by South Carolina Republican Rep. Trey Gowdy, and passed by voice-vote in early December. Co-sponsors included Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, and Democrats Rep. John Conyers and Bobby Scott. The Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent on December 28th, and sent over to the White House on New Years Day.
"Both men are young, enjoy good health, and have long lives ahead of them post-Presidency," Gowdy said on the House floor. "This bill proposes to extend that security for the remainder of their lives. There's an unintended anomaly, Mr. Speaker, that if current law were not changed, Hillary Clinton, Barbara Bush and Laura Bush would receive more protections by virtue of being First Lady than they would if they had served as President themselves. So I hope my colleagues will make sure that the person and the symbol of our Presidency is safe and secure for the duration of their natural lives."
Obama signed the legislation along with a host of remaining bills, including the naming of seven post offices.