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Dems press Secret Service on cost of Pence's Indianapolis trip

Dems press Secret Service on cost of Pence's Indianapolis trip
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Two top Democrats on the House Homeland Security Committee are pressing the Secret Service to reveal the cost to the agency of Vice President Pence's Sunday trip to Indianapolis, where he walked out of an NFL game when some players knelt during the national anthem.

In a letter to Secret Service Director Randolph Alles on Wednesday, Rep. Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonBlack Dems take lead in push to impeach Trump House Dems ask DHS for details of voter fraud investigation takeover Dems want answers on White House security clearance process MORE (D-Miss.), the Homeland Security panel's ranking member, and Rep. Bonnie Watson ColemanBonnie Watson ColemanApple tells senator it may give rebates to consumers who bought iPhone batteries Photo catches Dem playing Candy Crush during State of the Union Tech trade association tells lawmakers it will create a 'director of diversity' role MORE (D-N.J.) said that Pence's decision to leave the Colts game appeared to be a taxpayer-funded political stunt. 

"The costs associated with the Vice President traveling to Indianapolis and attending a large, public event are immense, and we are deeply concerned that the Trump Administration finds it appropriate to expend taxpayer resources to play political games,” the letter reads.

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The letter asks the Secret Service to disclose how much the Indianapolis visit cost the agency, as well as how many agents were involved in carrying out the protective mission for Pence.

The lawmakers also requested that the agency provide information on whether any of the agents who protected the vice president on the trip are no longer eligible to receive overtime pay because of statutory pay limits.

"The Vice President's recent actions, at the behest of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTillerson: Russia already looking to interfere in 2018 midterms Dems pick up deep-red legislative seat in Missouri Speier on Trump's desire for military parade: 'We have a Napoleon in the making' MORE, exacerbate our concerns that the Administration does not appreciate the resource demands on the [U.S. Secret Service] USSS," they wrote. 

"We also continue to be concerned that many USSS agents are overworked and underpaid due to statutory caps on overtime pay," they wrote.

A Secret Service spokesperson declined The Hill's request for comment regarding the letter.

Pence flew from Las Vegas to Indianapolis, where he attended a matchup between the Colts and the San Francisco 49ers. Reporters traveling with the vice president were told by a staffer to wait in their vans outside the stadium because of the possibility of "an early departure from the game."

Pence soon left, after some players knelt in protest during "The Star-Spangled Banner." President Trump later tweeted that he had told the vice president to leave if any players took a knee. 

Trump has carried on a feud with the NFL since last month over players who kneel during the anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice. He has argued that doing so is disrespectful to the country and that players who participate in the protests should be fired.

After leaving the game, Pence boarded Air Force Two and flew to Los Angeles to attend a political event. A CNN report on Monday estimated that the cost of Pence's air travel — from Las Vegas to Indianapolis and then to Los Angeles — was about $242,500. Some of that cost will be reimbursed by the Republican National Committee. 

That price tag, according to CNN, does not include the costs of advance personnel, ground support or Secret Service protection. 

Had Pence flown directly to Los Angeles from Las Vegas, the price tag for air travel would have been about $45,000, CNN reported. 

—Updated at 6:36 p.m.