Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House Concerning Secret Service Protection of Persons in Line for the Presidency
I am transmitting herewith a draft of a proposed bill to provide penalties for threats against the successors to the Presidency, to authorize their protection by the Secret Service, and for other purposes.
The purpose of the proposed legislation is to: (1) close gaps that exist in present law with respect to threats against, and Secret Service protection for, the person who is next in line to the Presidency; (2) authorize full-time protection of the Vice President; and (3) authorize the protection of a former President for a reasonable period of time after he leaves office.
The existing law governing threats against and protection for the person next in line to the Presidency applies only to the President-elect and the Vice President of the United States. It does not apply to the person next in line to the Presidency when a President has died and the Vice President has become President or when some disability has resulted in the succession of the Vice President to the Presidency. Nor does existing law make any provision for the protection of the Vice President-elect between Election Day and the date he assumes his office. Since it is the purpose of the law to provide protection for both the President and the person next in line to succeed him, there appears to be an obvious gap in the existing statutes. The proposed legislation would close that gap.
The bill, when enacted, will also provide for protection of the Vice President at all times. At present, he must request the attendance of Secret Service agents. The proposed legislation would remove the necessity for such a request.
Finally, the proposed legislation would specifically authorize the Secret Service to continue to provide a staff of five or six agents for a period of six months to the former President immediately after he leaves office. Although no longer the Chief Executive, he continues to be exposed to harmful acts by mentally deranged individuals or persons bearing grudges for a short time after he leaves office. The furnishing of such protection would, however, be left to the discretion of the former President.
It would be appreciated if you would lay the proposed bill before the Senate (House of Representatives). A similar proposed bill has been transmitted to the Speaker of the House of Representatives (President of the Senate).
JOHN F. KENNEDY
Note: This is the text of identical letters addressed to the Honorable Lyndon B. Johnson, President of the Senate, and to the Honorable Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The draft bill was released with the President's letter.
John F. Kennedy, Letter to the President of the Senate and to the Speaker of the House Concerning Secret Service Protection of Persons in Line for the Presidency Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/234706