Ernst’s ‘Presidential Perks’ Bill Passes House, Moves Closer to Becoming Law

The bill would put a stop to the taxpayer-funded perks future former presidents benefit from after office—like travel expenses, office space, and a personal staff

WASHINGTON—In a major step toward becoming law, Senator Joni Ernst’s (R-IA) bipartisan “Presidential Perks” bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives with unanimous support. The legislation, which she introduced with Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH), would put limits on taxpayer-funded benefits for former U.S. presidents, including expenses for their travel, personal staff, office space, and communications after they leave office.

“Former presidents rake in millions from speaking engagements, Netflix deals, and other big money windfalls once they leave office; but, believe it or not, taxpayers continue to foot the bills for the unlimited perks they still benefit from, like travel expenses and office space. That’s simply ridiculous. My bipartisan bill would put a stop to these unlimited perks for future presidents, saving taxpayers millions. I’m thrilled we have growing bipartisan and bicameral momentum behind my commonsense legislation, and I’ll continue the push to get it signed into law,” said Senator Joni Ernst.

The Presidential Allowance Modernization Act of 2019 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.
  • Set the pension for a former president at $200,000 per year.
  • Reduce a former president’s annual monetary allowance dollar-for-dollar by each dollar of income a former president earns in excess of $400,000.
  • Apply to future former presidents—current ex-presidents will continue receiving benefits via the existing system.
  • Not impact the funding of the security or protection of a former president.

What’s Next

Senator Ernst’s bill passed out of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee in May of this year. Now that the legislation has passed in the House, it only needs to pass in the Senate in order to go to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

Senator Ernst first introduced the bipartisan and bicameral Presidential Allowance Modernization Act in 2015. After passing both the Senate and the House with unanimous support, it was ultimately vetoed by President Barack Obama.

Additional Background

Since 1958, when Congress passed the Former Presidents Act, taxpayers have been providing former presidents with generous pensions, as well as monetary allowances to cover expenses like travel, staff, communications, and office space. The bill was supposed to help “maintain the dignity” of former presidents and assist with the costs associated with having held the office of president. However, times have changed, and former presidents make millions from lucrative post-presidency opportunities. The Former Presidents Act is in major need of modernization.

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