Lower house of US Congress votes to cut ex-presidents' funds

Lower house of US Congress votes to cut ex-presidents' funds

Washington: The House of Representatives voted Monday to reduce the pensions and other benefits available to former presidents in view of the "high-paying opportunities" afforded modern US leaders upon leaving office.

The Presidential Allowance Modernization Act was passed by voice vote, meaning consensus, but Senate passage, and the president's signature, are needed before it can become law.

It is intended to reform a 1958 law that entitles former presidents to a six-figure pension as well as budgets to maintain staff and offices.

But Congressman Jody Hice, a Republican from Georgia who introduced the bill, argued the law needed to be reformed.

"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.

"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 an ex-president's pension at $200,000 a year, a reduction of just under $4,000, while the budget for office and staff expenses would be limited to $500,000 annually.

The figure would be reduced to $350,000 in the sixth year after leaving office, and $250,000 in the eleventh.

Forbes estimated that former president Barack Obama earned some $20.5 million from the time he became senator in 2005 to 2017, when he left office following his second term as the country's leader.

Of the earnings, $15.6 million came from sales of his autobiographical bestsellers "Audacity of Hope" and "Dreams From My Father," and children's book "Of Thee I Sing: A Letter To My Daughters."