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Ernst Bill to Cut Former Presidential Perks Passes Committee

Legislation awaits full Senate consideration

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst’s (R-IA) Presidential Allowance Modernization Act of 2015 passed out of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. The legislation awaits full Senate consideration.

“We’re doing something today with the Presidential Allowance Modernization Act that many think Washington can’t do, and that’s cutting spending, but we can,” said Senator Ernst at today’s business meeting. “And even though this is just a start, we have over $19 trillion in debt; we have to do it. This bipartisan effort reforms and updates the benefits provided to former presidents to try and better reflect today’s post-presidential life. By limiting how much taxpayers pick up the tab for presidential perks - things like communications, office space, staff, and travel expenses - we are making sure taxpayer money is being spent wisely.”

The Presidential Allowance Modernization Act examines how former presidents are spending taxpayer dollars and would set the annual allowances for former presidents at $200,000—far below levels spent today. These taxpayer funded perks include, but are not limited to communications, office space, staff, and travel expenses. In addition, the legislation would further reduce the amount of perks available dollar-for-dollar for annual income over $400,000 generated by former presidents the previous year. At no point will security protection for former president’s and their families be impacted.

The Iowa Senator introduced the Presidential Allowance Modernization Act last spring. Original co-sponsors of the bill include Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Marco Rubio (R-FL). This is the companion bill to the House of Representatives bill, H.R. 1777, introduced by Congressmen Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD).

Click here or on the image below to watch Senator Ernst’s remarks.

HSGAC presidential perks

In addition, the committee passed a number of bipartisan bills targeted at improving government inefficiencies that if enacted, will ultimately save taxpayers millions of dollars. One such proposal would require the federal government to act on hundreds of U.S. Government Accountability Office recommendations to get rid of duplication and fragmentation in government programs. Another bill would demand accurate inventory of government property to hold federal agencies accountable that hold onto excess property at the cost of taxpayers. And finally, the MEGABYTE Act would streamline the management of federal software licensing programs.

About Presidential Perks and the Presidential Allowance Modernization Act:

  • According to the Congressional Research Service, post-presidency funding dates back to 1958 when Congress created the Former Presidents Act designed to “maintain the dignity” of former presidents and provide benefits to help cover costs associated with holding the office of the president.
  • In fiscal year 2015, former U.S. presidents cost taxpayers more than $2.4 million in travel, office space, communications, personnel, and other expenses.
  • The Presidential Allowance Modernization Act would:
    • Set former presidents’ monetary allowance and pension at $200,000 each per year.
    • Place reductions on perks if the former president earns more than $400,000 per year in income.
    • Affirm that nothing in the legislation relates to the funding of the security or protection of a former president.