Lawmakers to vote on bill to curb excessive spending by former presidents

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Legislation to cap pensions for former presidents will be in front of House lawmakers next week, and they are expected to pass it.

The Former Presidents Act would cap the pensions of former presidents at $200,000, slightly lower than the current $205,000 they receive. The legislation would not only limit the pensions, but it would also reduce the monetary allowance they are given to rent an office and keep a staff.

Former presidents would receive $500,000 for office and staff payments, with the allowance dropping to $350,000 after five years, and $250,000 five years after that. That payment would also be lowered by $1 for every dollar a former president earns over $400,000 each year.

The bill, introduced in September by Rep. Jody Hice (R-Ga.), is in response to a belief among lawmakers that former presidents no longer need taxpayer subsidies, considering they typically earn millions of dollars once they leave office.

Introducing the bill, which is expected to get a vote early next week, Hice said, “The Presidential Allowance Modernization Act presents a fair way to reduce taxpayer support to those former presidents who simply do not need such assistance, while modernizing outdated measures.”

Under current law, which was established in 1958, former presidents receive a pension of $205,700 per year. According to The Washington Examiner, former presidents receive generous allowances outside of their pensions.

The publication reports: President Jimmy Carter was given $230,000 in expenses outside his pension in fiscal year 2016, while George H.W. Bush received more than $600,000, Bill Clinton received more than $700,000, and George W. Bush received more than $800,000.

The benefits cost taxpayers $2.84 million in fiscal year 2017, according to Hice’s office.

“It is no longer necessary to provide taxpayer-funded subsidies to former presidents in the same way as envisioned in 1958,” said Hice. “I applaud the work that went into this legislation and look forward to its consideration on the House Floor.”

Similar legislation passed in the Senate Homeland Security Committee, offered by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa). Ernst says that presidents should keep getting taxpayer-funded security details, but she feels they don’t need the more than $1 million in pensions and monetary disbursements, which former Presidents Obama and George W. Bush are each expected to get in 2018.

“Our national debt now exceeds $20 trillion; this bipartisan effort is another important step toward reigning in Washington’s out-of-control spending,” Ernst said in October. “It is ridiculous to continue asking taxpayers to help foot the bill for former presidents’ perks at a time when they already rake in millions of dollars from book deals, speaking engagements, and more.”

Legislation aimed at limiting pensions for former presidents passed in Congress in 2016, with bipartisan support. Then-President Barrack Obama vetoed the bill, saying it might have “unintended consequences” for current presidential office staffers.

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