The House voted Tuesday to ban federal spending on oil paintings of senior federal officials, which would force presidents, vice presidents, Cabinet members, and others to find private financing for their portraits.
The Eliminating Government-funded Oil-painting Act, or the EGO Act, was passed by a voice vote in the House Tuesday afternoon, and it passed in the Senate in the same manner last year.
"In years past, the federal government spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on portraits of government officials," Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa, said on the House floor before the vote. "Taxpayer funds should be invested in programs that benefits taxpayers and our country, not oil paintings of Cabinet members to boost their egos."
Funding legislation for fiscal year 2017 prohibited the use of federal funds on oil paintings, which can cost as much as $50,000. But the bill, from Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., aims to make that change permanent.
"When America is trillions of dollars in debt, we should take every reasonable measure to reduce the burden passed on to our children and grandchildren," Cassidy said last year when his bill passed the Senate. "Tax dollars should go to building roads and improving schools — not oil paintings that few people ever see."
Conservatives looking to cut back on wasteful federal spending have for years targeted pricey oil paintings as a line item that should be eliminated.
Last month, portraits of former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama were unveiled in a ceremony that was attended by Hollywood director Steven Spielberg, actor Tom Hanks, former Vice President Joe Biden, and many others.
Those paintings were commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery, but were funded through private donations.