Rep. Hice Bill to Cut Expense Accounts for Former Presidents Sails Through House
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Representative Jody Hice (R-GA), vice-chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Government Operations, today applauded the House passage of H.R. 3739, the Presidential Allowance Modernization Act, legislation he introduced to limit the pensions of former presidents, update the pensions of surviving spouses, and reduce the allowances provided for post-presidential expenditures by amending the Former Presidents Act of 1958.
“The lifestyle available to former presidents in this day and age is filled with high-paying opportunities, such as top-dollar speaking engagements, book deals, and board memberships,” said Congressman Hice. “Despite the millions of dollars offered by these lucrative deals, American taxpayers continue to foot the bill for yearly pensions, staff salaries, and office space. Given that our federal deficit is more than $20 trillion, it is imperative that our past presidents lead by example in cutting costs and prioritizing accountability as we strive toward a balanced budget. The Presidential Allowance Modernization Act does just that, and I am proud that it has passed the House today. I’m hopeful that the measure will be considered by the full Senate and eventually signed into law.”
The Presidential Allowance Modernization Act was introduced on September 12, 2017 by Hice, which 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).
The measure passed the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on September 13, 2017 with unanimous, bipartisan support. The companion bill passed the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on October 4, 2017. H.R. 3739 passed the U.S. House of Representatives by voice vote on November 13, 2017.
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 five years after leaving office 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.
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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