WASHINGTON, D.C. – In an effort to cut spending and safeguard taxpayer dollars, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) today re-introduced the Presidential Allowance Modernization Act of 2017. This legislation reforms the outdated system that provides former U.S. Presidents with post-presidency benefits by establishing first-ever limits on the taxpayer support they receive.
Currently, under the Former Presidents Act, former presidents receive a generous pension as well as a monetary allowance to cover expenses such as travel, staff, communications, and office space – all funded by the American taxpayer. According to the Congressional Research Service, this post-presidency funding dates back to 1958, when Congress passed the Former Presidents Act in an effort to “maintain the dignity” of former presidents and help cover the costs associated with having held the office of the president.
Nowadays, with former presidents earning millions of dollars through speaking engagements, consulting, book deals, and board memberships, the Former President’s Act needs to be updated to take into account the modern financial standing of former presidents. Senator Ernst’s legislation would establish a cap on former presidents’ monetary allowances, which are currently unlimited and fund resources like office space, staff salaries, cell phone bills, and more. It would then reduce the allowance dollar-for-dollar by each dollar of income a former president earns in excess of $400,000.
This legislation, however, does not impact funding for the security or protection of a former president.
“With the national debt quickly approaching $20 trillion, we cannot afford to generously subsidize the perks of former presidents to the tune of millions of dollars,” said Senator Ernst. “The reality is that post-presidential life already provides fruitful opportunities on its own, with former presidents raking in tens of millions of dollars from book deals, speaking engagements, and more. This legislation implements greatly needed reforms and saves taxpayers millions. Most importantly, it’s another step toward reigning-in Washington’s out-of-control spending.”
Senator Ernst first introduced the bipartisan and bicameral Presidential Allowance Modernization Act on May 21, 2015. After passing both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives with unanimous support, it was ultimately vetoed by President Obama.
Congressman Jody Hice (R-GA) will introduce the companion legislation to the Presidential Modernization Act of 2017 in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Read the full text of the bill here.
About Presidential Perks and the Presidential Allowance Modernization Act of 2017:
- According to a recent report from the Congressional Research Service, in fiscal year 2017 alone, former U.S. Presidents cost taxpayers more than $2.8 million in travel, office space, communications, personnel, and other expenses.
- The Presidential Allowance Modernization Act of 2017 would:
- Set a former president’s pension at $200,000 per year and implement a first-ever cap on the monetary allowance at $500,000, gradually reducing to $250,000 over a period of 10 years.
- Affirm that nothing in the legislation relates to the funding of the security or protection of a former president.