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Hice Bill to Curb Excessive Spending by Former Presidents Gains Ground, Advances Committee

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Washington, September 13, 2017 | comments

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Jody Hice (R-GA), vice-chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations, yesterday introduced H.R. 3739, the Presidential Allowance Modernization Act, which limits the pensions of former presidents, updates the pensions of surviving spouses, and reduces the allowances provided for post-presidential expenditures by amending the Former Presidents Act of 1958.

The bill advanced the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 with unanimous, bipartisan support. The measure streamlines the wide range of benefits provided to former presidents by taking into account the modern-day financial realities faced after leaving office. Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA).

Representative Hice’s opening remarks from the Full Committee Business Meeting can be found here

“Because of lucrative opportunities, like book deals and speaking engagements, it is no longer necessary to provide taxpayer-funded subsidies to former presidents in the same way as envisioned in 1958,” said Congressman Hice. “The Presidential Allowance Modernization Act presents a fair way to reduce taxpayer support to those former presidents who simply do not need such assistance, while modernizing outdated measures. The offices of former presidents are noble, important institutions that should be supported in a nominal way. I applaud the work that went into this legislation and look forward to its consideration on the House Floor.”

The Presidential Allowance Modernization Act of 2017 would:

• Set the pension for former presidents at $200,000 per year;

• Limit the cost to the taxpayer for expenses such as office space and leases, furniture and supplies as well as staff salaries to a lump monetary sum of $500,000 per year;

• Reduce the monetary allowance dollar-for-dollar if a former president makes in excess of $400,000 in earned income;

• Gradually phase out the monetary allowance so that it decreases to $350,000 in six years after the bill’s enactment and then to $250,000 in 10 years, where it remains until 30 days after the death of a former president; and

• Maintain the funding for the security and protection of a former president or a family member.

The full bill text can be found here.  

Background:

Under the Former Presidents Act of 1958, former presidents currently receive a pension of $205,700 annually as well as taxpayer money for staff salaries, office space, communications, travel, and other expenses. These additional benefits totaled $2.43 million in Fiscal Year 2016 and $2.84 million in Fiscal Year 2017.

In the 114th Congress, the Presidential Allowance Modernization Act of 2015 passed both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, but was vetoed by President Obama. While the Presidential Allowance Modernization Act of 2017 makes several modifications to the previous bill, it continues to advance the same principles of accountability and modernization.

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