President Barack Obama signed legislation on Thursday that gives him and former President George W. Bush lifetime Secret Service Protection.
The Former Presidents Protection Act reverses a law from 1994 that says presidents are only protected for 10 years after leaving office.
The law grants all future presidents lifetime protection by the Secret Service, their spouses unless they remarry, and their children until the age of 16.
Congress had ended lifetime security protection to cut costs. After 10 years of protection, Congress could only approve further security for former presidents and their families on a temporary basis. In the post-9/11 world, though, Congress decided that former chief executives may still be vulnerable and need protection.
The measure applies to presidents elected after Jan. 1, 1997, specifically Obama and George W. Bush, the Associated Press explains.
Former executive families can also decline protection if they so choose, according to ABC News. When President George Herbert Walker Bush walked away from the inaugural ceremonies of his successor Bill Clinton, his wife Barbara Bush said farewell to her agents on the Capitol steps, and moved back to Texas without them.
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, according to BuzzFeed. Co-sponsors included Republican Lamar Smith, and Democrats John Conyers and Bobby Scott. The Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent on Dec. 28, and sent over to the White House on New Year's 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.
The Secret Service started protecting presidents in 1901 after the assassination of William McKinley, according to Yahoo News. In 1965, Congress passed a law authorizing the agency, which is now a part of the Department of Homeland Security, to protect former presidents for life.
The legislation was signed along with a host of other bills, including the naming of seven post offices.
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