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Eleanor N.
Democrat DC 0

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  • Presidential Allowance Modernization Act

    by Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton

    Posted on 2016-01-11

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    NORTON. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

    Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 1777, the Presidential Allowance Modernization Act. I want to thank my good friends, Chairman Chaffetz and Ranking Member Cummings of the Oversight Committee, for their work on this important update of Presidential legislation.

    This is what this bill would do: It would update what has become an arcane law and reduce unnecessary costs to the taxpayer. The bill would amend the Former Presidents Act of 1958 to provide a $200,000 annual pension for each former President and a $100,000 annual survivor benefit to each surviving spouse. The pensions are indexed to inflation and would increase with the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment.

    Currently, surviving spouses receive $20,000--an interesting disparity between the spouse and the former President--and former Presidents receive a pension equal to the pay for Cabinet Secretaries, which for 2015 is $203,700.

    The bill would also provide an annual allowance of $200,000 for costs associated with post-Presidential life. The annual allowance would replace amounts currently provided for travel, staff, and office expenses, which totaled $3.25 million in fiscal year 2015 for the four living former Presidents.

    The allowance would be reduced dollar for dollar for every dollar a former President earns in outside income in excess of $400,000.

    {time} 1645 So, you see, there might be no Presidential pension if the President does what most Presidents have done, which is to almost not be able to help earning outside income.

    Updating the allowance ends an unnecessary government handout to former Presidents making millions of dollars after leaving office. There is little reason why American taxpayers should be subsidizing these former Presidents when they are making a comfortable living on their own work.

    This legislation would not affect the funding for the security and protection of former Presidents and their spouses, and that is an important provision, considering the world in which we live today.

    Last, Mr. Speaker, I want to particularly thank my good friend, Chairman Chaffetz, for the amendment, my amendment to the bill in committee to eliminate the prohibition on preventing a former President or surviving spouse from receiving a pension during the period of time he or she holds office in the District of Columbia.

    Imagine that. When this bill was written, it was a double-dipping bill, and they thought that some President would leave office and want to, somehow, seek work in the District of Columbia. Hardly, but I can understand that provision, and I thank the chairman that this double- dipping provision, he and I both find, is no longer necessary.

    While this language may have made sense in 1958, that was before the District even had home rule. The District had no mayor or city council. It was under the total dominance of the Federal Government.

    Since then, of course, there have been changes that I am pleased to applaud, and the government of the District of Columbia pays for the pensions of its own employees, so the Federal Government isn't in it at all.

    There is no reason the concern that a former President would receive both a pension and a salary from the Federal Government should still be a part of our law.

    This is a good-government bill that makes fiscal sense by reducing taxpayer-funded costs. I certainly urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support H.R. 1777.

    I reserve the balance of my time.

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