New Bill Seeks to Extend Protection for Ex-Vice Presidents

Vice President Dick Cheney would continue to be shielded by the Secret Service for at least six months after he leaves office under legislation the House is taking up Monday.

The measure, endorsed by both Democrats and Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee last month, writes into law a common practice of extending federal protections for the vice president and his family in the months immediately after his time in office ends.

Former presidents can, if they so choose, receive Secret Service protection for the remainder of their lives.

The bill, which still needs Senate consideration, provides permanent authority for the Secret Service to protect former vice presidents, their spouses and their children under the age of 16 for up to six months after leaving office.

The secretary of the Department of Homeland Security can extend that protection if it is determined that conditions warrant it. The former vice president may decline the protection.

Recent vice presidents, going back to Hubert Humphrey in 1969, have generally been accorded about a half-year of protection after leaving office. But because there has been no law in place, it has required a special act of Congress or a presidential directive.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated that the extra protection would cost about $4 million in fiscal year 2009.