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Ernst Expresses Disappointment Over President’s Veto to Cut Presidential Perks

WASHINGTON, D.C. - ?President Obama today vetoed the Presidential Allowance Modernization Act which passed both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate with bipartisan support. U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) - who introduced legislation in the Senate along with Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL), and Marco Rubio (R-FL), while Congressmen Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD) introduced a bill in the House - issued the following statement over the President’s veto:?


“When I came to Washington, I pledged to identify the wasteful spending coming from both sides of the aisle, and make Washington squeal. That includes cutting the perks and spending that subsidize wealthy former presidents’ lives to the tune of millions of dollars. I realize this may not be popular among former presidents, but reducing this spending is the right thing to do. 


“The Presidential Allowance Modernization Act would reform this flawed benefit system by cutting many of these unnecessary perks, while making certain that the security given to former presidents and their families is in no way impacted.


“I am so disappointed that at a time when past presidents receive well-compensated book deals and speaking fees, hardworking Americans are also expected to foot the bill for their personal staff, office expenses, and much more. 


“By continuing with the status quo - despite the bipartisan support in Congress - President Obama has chosen to keep measures in place that unnecessarily cost taxpayers money and benefit wealthy former presidents’ personal careers and post-presidency life.


“This is truly outrageous, particularly at a time when every citizen’s individual share of the national debt is nearly $60,000. The Presidential Allowance Modernization Act would have cut many of these unnecessary and costly presidential perks. I hope President Obama will reconsider and work with us to protect taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars.” 


About 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 (S. 1411) was introduced by Senators Joni Ernst, Mark Kirk (R-IL), and Marco Rubio (R-FL) on May 21, 2015. The House companion bill (H.R. 1777) was introduced by Congressmen Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD).
  • The Presidential Allowance Modernization Act would:
    • Affirm that nothing in the legislation relates to the funding of the security or protection of a former president.
    • 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.
  • S. 1411 passed out of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on February 10, 2016.
  • Legislation ?passed the Senate on June 21, 2016.