The House on Monday approved by voice vote legislation that would reduce taxpayer funding of former presidents.
The bill, authored by Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., modifies similar legislation passed in 2016 that former President Barack Obama vetoed.
“The lifestyle available to former presidents in this day and age is filled with high-paying opportunities, such as top-dollar speaking engagements, book deals, and board memberships,” Hice said. “Despite the millions of dollars offered by these lucrative deals, American taxpayers continue to foot the bill for yearly pensions, staff salaries, and office space. Given that our federal deficit is more than $20 trillion, it is imperative that our past presidents lead by example in cutting costs and prioritizing accountability as we strive toward a balanced budget.
The bill would cap at $500,000 annually the expenses incurred by ex-presidents for office space, leases, furniture, supplies, and staff salaries. It would also cap pensions at $200,000, which is about where they are set currently, and it would reduce monetary allowances if a former president earns more than $400,000.
Ex-presidents have become increasingly wealthy.
A Washington Post report last year found that former President Bill Clinton earned $104.9 million for 542 speeches between January 2001 and January 2013.
President Obama and Michelle Obama have already earned $65 million in advance money for books each is writing.
The Hice legislation would phase out the monetary allowance over time, slashing it to $350,000 in six years and reducing it to $250,000 in 10 years.
Under the Former Presidents Act of 1958, former presidents receive a pension of $205,700 annually and unlimited taxpayer money for staff salaries, office space, communications, travel, and other costs. According to Hice, those benefits cost $2.43 million in fiscal year 2016 and $2.84 million in fiscal year 2017.
There are currently five living former presidents.
The Hice bill modifies the legislation Obama vetoed by reducing the expenditures over time rather than immediately.