Amid shutdown, Secret Service agents absorb travel expenses while working without pay

Amid shutdown, Secret Service agents absorb travel expenses while working without pay
They put their lives on the line to protect the president, his family and other key American officials, and the agents of U.S. Secret Service are doing it without pay while the government shutdown continues.

(CNN) - The president’s secret service agents are among the thousands impacted by the current government shutdown.

They put their lives on the line to protect the president, his family and other key American officials, and the agents of U.S. Secret Service are doing it without pay while the government shutdown continues.

In addition, agents are forced to foot the bill for incidental expenses while on the job.

“Throughout the agency, the morale is starting to deteriorate,” said Jonathan Wackrow, a former Secret Service agent.

Of the more than 7,222 secret service employees, 5,978 are currently working without pay and 1,244 are furloughed.

Wackrow said with no paychecks in sight, many in the agency see bank accounts dwindling and short-term debt mounting, which itself creates a potential security threat and puts their jobs at risk.

"If their credit score goes below a certain level, they lose their clearance levels to operate at the highest level of the government," he said.

According to Wackrow, while flights and hotels are covered for their travel, Secret Service members are paying out of pocket for other travel expenses while on the job, adding to the possibility of running up debt.

“The smaller bill items like parking expenses, meals, taxi cabs, all of those things that build up over time. Now if you’re traveling for seven to eight days at a time, and I have to front, all of that money ... that mounts up,” he said.

President Donald Trump said about the men and women who protect him and others going without pay: “I think they have been terrific. These are terrific patriots. A lot of them agree with what I’m doing. And I hope we’re going to have the situation worked out. But they want security in our country, and so do I.”

While there are certainly some agents who agree with him, many are saying the opposite.

One current agent put it this way: "Most people don't care about politics. This isn't about the wall. … When guys are having a hard time paying the bills and making ends meet, nobody wants to hear about that."

The agent added, “Politicians have a job to do, right? Nobody is doing their job, as far as I’m concerned.”

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