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Secret Service buying a Harley-Davidson, despite Trump's calls for boycott

Katherine Tully-McManus, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- The Secret Service is still buying Harley-Davidson motorcycles, even though President Donald Trump has supported a boycott of Harleys if the company moves some motorcycle production overseas.

The Secret Service posted its intention to purchase a single Harley-Davidson motorcycle, "brand name only, with police equipment accessories" earlier this week. The procurement solicitation paperwork was posted on a website for businesses that contract with the federal government.

Tension between the Trump and the Wisconsin-based bike manufacturer emerged earlier this year when Trump imposed hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum imports in an effort to bolster domestic manufacturing. The European Union responded by pledging to raise tariffs on a list of goods that are imported from the United States, including Harley motorcycles.

Harley said in August that it stands to lose as much as $100 million a year, and the company pledged to shift some of its production abroad so that it could avoid the added tariffs on motorcycles sold in the EU.

That prompted Trump to stir talks of boycotting Harley-Davidson.

"Many @harleydavidson owners plan to boycott the company if manufacturing moves overseas. Great! Most other companies are coming in our direction, including Harley competitors. A really bad move! U.S. will soon have a level playing field, or better," the president tweeted on Aug. 12.

Harley doesn't sell motorcycles in the U.S. that are built overseas, and the company has said that won't change.

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Many federal law enforcement agencies use Harley-Davidsons, including the U.S. Capitol Police, Metropolitan Police and the United States Park Police. Capitol Police officers said Thursday that there are few alternatives for motorcycles equipped for police use, and most are foreign companies such as Honda, Yamaha and. Kawasaki.

The Secret Service justification for the purchase says that choosing another make and model would cost thousands of dollars. Support technicians are trained on the Harley-Davidson bikes and additional training for a new vehicle would increase costs, according to the Secret Service. The vehicles in the existing fleet include side cars and the inventory of side cars would not work with a different type of motorcycle.

The purchase will replace an existing motorcycle that has "excessive mileage" and is beyond its regular replacement cycle.

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