The 2016 proposed budget includes an additional $25,000 increase.
The Former Presidents Act, enacted in 1958, provides living former presidents with a pension, office staff and support, funds for travel, Secret Service protection, and mailing privileges. It also provides benefits for presidential spouses. Currently, former presidents are awarded a pension equal to the salary of cabinet secretaries, which totaled $203,700 for the 2015 calendar year and was boosted by $2,000 for the current calendar year.
Critics of the act argue that it financially supports former presidents who are not struggling. Many of them, alternatively, have gone on to profit from writing books about their time in the White House or delivering paid speaking engagements.
Former President Bill Clinton, for example, earned $132 million for delivering paid speeches between February 2001 and March 2015, according to an analysis from CNN. Clinton received $924,000 in taxpayer dollars last year by way of the Former Presidents Act.
Republicans in the House and Senate have introduced legislation that would cap annual pensions for former presidents at $200,000. Additionally, the bills would cut each pension by a dollar for every dollar the former president earns over $400,000 in the private sector in a given year. The measure was approved by the House in January with bipartisan support.
“It’s pretty simple. You want a retirement and pension, it’s there. But if you’re going to go out and make enormous sums of money, then you don’t need taxpayer subsidies,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah), who introduced the bill in the House, told ABC News in an interview.
“The former presidents are making gobs of money speaking and writing books, more power to them, but that doesn’t mean they need more taxpayer dollars on top of that,” Chaffetz added. “It’s embarrassing that they take that money.”