Trump arrives Friday on heels of legislative victory

Donald Trump has visited Mar-a-Lago nine times as president, but Friday will be the first time he rides in on the momentum of a major legislative victory.

The president — in a celebratory mood this week since the Republican-controlled Congress completed the most sweeping overhaul of the federal tax code in more than three decades — is expected to arrive at Palm Beach International Airport in the early afternoon. Trump is expected to remain at his tropical estate and private club through Christmas and return to Washington on New Year’s Day.

First lady Melania Trump and son Barron are already at Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach Daily News reported this week. Donald Trump Jr. is also in town and made an appearance at a summit for college-age conservatives at the Palm Beach County Convention Center on Tuesday night.

The tax bill, which cuts taxes in 2018 for most Americans and slashes the top corporate rate to 21 percent from 35 percent, was approved by the House and Senate on party-line votes this week. The only remaining suspense on Thursday surrounded when Trump would sign the legislation.

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“I just hope he signs it as soon as possible,” said U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, who voted for the bill. “This tax bill provides confidence. It provides a lot of confidence to a lot of people.”

Trump’s visits to Mar-a-Lago typically require a large deployment of Palm Beach County sheriff’s deputies and other local law enforcement officers to assist the U.S. Secret Service in protecting the president.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency this week approved a $3.4 million reimbursement to county taxpayers to cover local costs for law enforcement assistance during Trump’s first seven visits to Palm Beach between February and April.

The largest chunk of federal money — nearly $3.3 million — will go to the sheriff’s office. The Palm Beach Police Department will get $71,270 and the West Palm Beach Police Department will get $63,164.

The reimbursements cover Trump’s visits between his inauguration and Sept. 30, when the federal budget year ended.

“This is exactly what we were looking for,” said Palm Beach Public Safety Director Kirk Blouin. “It’s certainly helpful. It was unexpected expenses that were necessary to protect the president and the community.”

County taxpayers got a $1 million reimbursement in October for local law enforcement expenditures when Trump was at Mar-a-Lago between the November 2016 election and his inauguration.

While the president is at Mar-a-Lago, cars and pedestrians are prohibited on South Ocean Boulevard in Palm Beach from the intersection of South County Road to Southern Boulevard. Other roads face temporary closures to accommodate presidential motorcades.

The U.S. Coast Guard also enforces restrictions in the ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway near Mar-a-Lago. And the county’s small Lantana airport is effectively shut down during presidential visits because of its proximity to Trump’s estate.

Trump has logged about 24 days in Palm Beach County during nine visits since taking office.

»Trump cam: Live view of Mar-a-Lago

Staff writer Matt Morgan contributed to this story.

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